THE GIFT OF DRAGONS

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Greco’s series-starting novel opens with a map of the kingdom of Klinhun, which is revealed to be under threat of attack from Gyndilad. In the sleepy town of Alesfirth, Adelaide, who’s 13 “winters old,” overcomes her resentment toward her perfect-seeming older sister, Emma, to become best friends with her. Adelaide’s family is poor and struggling, and like many others in town, she feels anger toward the ruling class for her condition. A sudden, tragic event turns Adelaide’s simmering discontent into hatred, which causes her to embark on a quest to overthrow the rulers of Klinhun. She journeys across the kingdom, accompanied by her rescued pet hawk, Cyr, to the center of power: Dhalion, the King’s City. As she does so, she encounters dangerous robbers and is exposed to strange new ideas about dragons of legend. As the mysterious nobleman Elias pursues her, her perspective changes as she opens her mind to new revelations about her world and about Elias. Will his friendship be enough to soften her heart and ease her sadness? Meanwhile, her childhood friend Gunter is on a dangerous, revolutionary journey of his own. A slow-burning teenage romance between Adelaide and Elias blossoms over the course of the story, which ends on a cliffhanger; the author also offers a deleted scene in the acknowledgments. Greco’s debut features many highly familiar elements of the YA genre, including a strong but emotionally cold teen protagonist; multiple tragic backstories; and a love interest who’s charming and annoying, by turns. The appeal of the book lies mainly in its strong prose, which effectively balances description and worldbuilding with introspective passages that focus on Adelaide, ably exploring her motives and emotional journey. The way that the author uses dragons in her story is unusual and elevates the suspense. However, the philosophical conflict that Adelaide faces feels oversimplified, and Elias, as a love interest, seems almost too good to be true.

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