The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart by Stephanie Burgis

The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart by Stephanie Burgis

 

The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart was a glorious read, pairing dragons and chocolate in a unique story that has quickly become one of my favourites.

[The following may contain some spoilers!]

Adventurine is a young dragon in search of her passion. Her brother has his philosophy and her sister has her poetry, and Adventurine feels like a disappointment. Determined to prove to her family that they underestimate her, she sets out to catch a dangerous prey: a human. But her chosen victim is a food mage who tempts her with the most delicious thing she has ever tasted- chocolate- and he enchants it so that it turns her into a defenceless girl. Forced to fit into human society, Adventurine begins her quest to live out her delicious, new-found passion and become an apprentice chocolatier.

The plot of this novel moves forward so satisfyingly, never too fast or too slow. Something happens in every scene and it builds up beautifully to the final resolution. The characters are vivid and teach Adventurine some valuable lessons about friendship, identity and courage. Silke proves to Adventurine that girls can be as fierce as dragons and Marina shows her that nothing is more important than work well done.

Adventurine has to work out how to be both dragon and girl and this comes together in the most exciting and unlikely way. I love how she keeps her dragon fierceness, is constantly puzzled at how humans do things and how she comes to see her new life as a treasure to be guarded. Adventurine’s first taste of chilli chocolate brings her two identities together in a fireball of flavour and was very fitting for the storyline.

But a sudden, startling wetness pricked at the back of my eyes. I’d thought I would never feel that heat in my throat again. I’d thought I’d lost my flame forever.

The description of the intricate process of chocolate making and the different flavours was one of the best parts, making the book mouthwatering and authentic. Reading it took me on an adventure like no other, so much so that it was refreshingly difficult to guess where the story might lead.

The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart is a delicious middle-grade novel that I can’t wait to recommend! The Girl with the Dragon Heart, which stars Adventurine’s friend Silke, will be published in 2018. Read more about Stephanie Burgis and her books on her website, here.

 

 

Church of Marvels by Leslie Parry

Church of Marvels Leslie Parry review Typewritered

The Church of Marvels was an enchanting read, following four people whose lives become beautifully intertwined. Twins Belle and Odile grew up in a circus, Church of Marvels, alongside a pair of tigers and a group of people with extraordinary talents. At the opening of the book, they have just watched it burn down, their mother and friends inside. Belle vanishes and Odile is desperate to find her. Sylvan is a night soiler whose life changes when he finds a newborn baby girl in the privies he cleans. Alphie, a former prostitute, wakes up in a living nightmare- she has arrived at an asylum for the insane with no recollection of how she got there.

The story is set in 1890’s Manhattan but it seems like a fantasy world of Parry’s own making. Her depiction of knife swallowing, underground rooms where orphaned children perform plays, opium dens where people of all backgrounds lie high in the dark and fights that are treated like spectacles in an abandoned pier come together to create a novel full of colour. Featuring an incredibly unexpected plot twist, it is about finding the marvellous in the ordinary, pulling together the themes of kindness, suffering, the love between mother and child and prejudice towards those who are different. The author slowly releases hints throught the plot to allow the reader to discover the secrets that lie in the hearts of these spellbinding characters.

“We assume that our sight is reliable, that our deeds are straightforward, that our words have one meaning. But life is uncommon and strange; it is full of intricacies and odd, confounding turns. So onstage we remind them just how extraordinary the ordinary can be. This, she said, is the tiger in the grass. It’s the wonder that hides in plain sight, the secret life that flourishes just beyond the screen. For you are not showing them a hoax or a trick, just a new way of seeing what’s already in front of them. This, she told me, is your mark on the world. This is the story that you tell.”

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