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.

 

 

Moonlocket by Peter Bunzl

9781474915014

Storm clouds gather over Lily and Robert’s summer when criminal mastermind the Jack of Diamonds appears. For Jack is searching for the mysterious Moonlocket – but that’s not the only thing he wants.

Suddenly, dark secrets from Robert’s past plunge him into danger. Jack is playing a cruel game that Robert is a part of. Now Lily and Malkin, the mechanical fox, must stay one step ahead before Jack plays his final, deadly card…

Moonlocket is the second book in Peter Bunzl’s Cogheart Adventure series. I interviewed Peter about the first book Cogheart here.

This second instalment is a fast-paced, mystery solving escapade. Set 8 months after the events of Cogheart as London prepares for Queen Victoria’s Jubilee, Lily, Robert and Malkin delve into Robert’s long lost past….and it’s not long before they get mixed up with famous escapologist and criminal Jack Door!

This book involves spiritual seances, lock-pickers and a mysterious, moon-shaped locket…With the help of London urchin Tolly, Lily and Robert become detectives. The clues they uncover come together seamlessly and propel the plot forward, building up the tension so well that I had to remind myself to read slowly. It was great to  find out more about how mechanicals work.

Peter’s vivid characterisation of Lily is fantastically done. She’s so nonchalantly confident and determined, and I love how she informs her father and Robert about the intricacies of lock-picking between bites of toast. Peter’s writing is engaging and full of humour:

“Malkin,” Lily whispered, “you’re going to have to create a distraction.”
“What sort of distraction?”
“I don’t know, a distracting one.”

Some of the prose is just breathtaking.

“The moon’s waxy pockmarked face peered through the window, pale and pithy as a piece of fruit, stars sprinkled behind her like spilled sugar.”

One thing I’m looking forward to returning to in the next book is the conflict between Lily and her over-protective father. I didn’t feel that this was completely resolved in Moonlocket, so I’m hoping we’ll see more of how Lily deals with this and being a ‘hybrid’ in book number three!

This is a thrilling novel about proving your worth and the struggle to forgive. Courage and catastrophe come together to create an adventure as intricate as the Cogheart itself.

What I’m Reading in June

A_Monster_Calls

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness & Siobhan Down

The monster showed up just after midnight. As they do. But it isn’t the monster Conor’s been expecting. He’s been expecting the one from his nightmare, the one he’s had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments, the one with the darkness and the wind and the screaming… The monster in his back garden, though, this monster is something different. Something ancient, something wild. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor. It wants the truth. Costa Award winner Patrick Ness spins a tale from the final idea of much-loved Carnegie Medal winner Siobhan Dowd, whose premature death from cancer prevented her from writing it herself. Darkly mischievous and painfully funny, A Monster Calls is an extraordinarily moving novel of coming to terms with loss from two of our finest writers for young adults.

9780571340200

The Five Realms: The Legend of Podkin One-Ear by Kieran Larwood

Podkin is the son of a warrior chieftain. He knows that one day it will be up to him to lead his warren and guard it in times of danger. But for now, he’s quite happy to laze around annoying his older sister Paz, and playing with his baby brother Pook.

Then Podkin’s home is brutally attacked, and the young rabbits are forced to flee. The terrifying Gorm are on the rampage, and no one and nowhere is safe. With danger all around them, Podkin must protect his family, uncover his destiny, and attempt to defeat the most horrifying enemy rabbitkind has ever known.

9781474915014

Moonlocket by Peter Bunzl

Storm clouds gather over Lily and Robert’s summer when criminal mastermind the Jack of Diamonds appears. For Jack is searching for the mysterious Moonlocket – but that’s not the only thing he wants.

Suddenly, dark secrets from Robert’s past plunge him into danger. Jack is playing a cruel game that Robert is a part of. Now Lily and Malkin, the mechanical fox, must stay one step ahead before Jack plays his final, deadly card…

Island-at-the-End-of-Everything-website.jpg

The Island at the End of Everything by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

Amihan lives on Culion Island, where some of the inhabitants – including her mother – have leprosy. Ami loves her home – with its blue seas and lush forests, Culion is all she has ever known. But the arrival of malicious government official Mr Zamora changes her world forever: islanders untouched by sickness are forced to leave. Banished across the sea, she’s desperate to return, and finds a strange and fragile hope in a colony of butterflies. Can they lead her home before it’s too late?