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July 6, 2020

The Book of Dragons by Jonathan Strahan ~ a Review

by MK French


The Book of Dragons is a collection of stories and poems involving dragons, including the current masters of fantasy writing. It is also illustrated by award-nominated artist Rovina Cai, who has black and white line drawings accompanying each entry into this collection.
Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

The Book of Dragons cover
July 2020; Harper Voyager; 978-0062877161
audio, ebook, print (576 pages); fantasy
It opens with a poem by Jane Yolen, then the story "Matriculation" by Elle Katharine White. Dragons are a means of transport for the magitechnician student, a vampire is a pawnbroker that takes payment in blood, and there all sorts of magical creatures that exist. But that doesn't erase feelings of loss or the realities of paying for school, or that degrees and certificates will always be barriers to success for those unable to obtain them. Dragons in the modern world can be sued in court in Zen Chu's entry, and they're a source of cheap energy in Ken Liu's.

Not all dragons are literal. "Yuli" has dragons in the form of the title character's grandson playing Dungeons and Dragons, though he had a gold hoard of his own that he's willing to brutally defend. 

We hear a lot about a dragon in "The Nine Curves River," a tale told in second person that is melancholy and thoughtful. We don't see it, and the lyrical words tell us more about the people of the village and how sisters can treat each other. 

Rereading the story just brings out more of the sadness and regret, and everything I would expect from the author of the acclaimed novel "The Poppy War." Peter S. Beagle's entry involves Melusine, a half-human and half-dragon woman that shape changes every Saturday, and has for centuries. 

Seanan McGuire's contribution is also a judgment against the callousness of the foster care system, and the children cast aside. (Also, her introductory blurb is hilarious.) Aliette de Bodard's story includes Vietnamese characters and a science fiction blend to the fantasy involving dragons.

I love that we see so much of the Eastern traditions of dragons in a lot of these stories. The culture is featured in small ways and large ones, and there are fantastic ways that the mythology is changed and modified to give life to the tales we have here. Even though they're short, the stories here still pull at the heartstrings and make us feel and think. Those are always the best kind of stories, and these are made better yet by featuring dragons.

Buy The Book of Dragons at Amazon

Born and raised in New York City, M.K. French started writing stories when very young, dreaming of different worlds and places to visit. She always had an interest in folklore, fairy tales, and the macabre, which has definitely influenced her work. She currently lives in the Midwest with her husband, three young children, and a golden retriever. 

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