Handbook for Dragon Slayers by Merrie Haskell grabbed me because of that gorgeous cover and of course dragons! Though I have to admit I was nervous about a book that was about slaying dragons instead of thinking they are awesome. Fortunately I was in for a happy surprise with that, though I won’t give away too much ;-). There was some weirdness with the setting that kept throwing me out of the world, and I’ve never been good with non-plot driven novels, but in the end Handbook for Dragon Slayers is a fun book with an excellent premise (disabled MC who still kicks butt!).
Note: I received an ARC of Handbook for Dragon Slayers from a friend. Some things may have changed in the final version.
Handbook for Dragon Slayers by Merrie Haskell
Published by HarperCollins on May 28th, 2013
Genres: Fantasy, YA
Length: 336 pages
How I got my copy: Borrowed
Book Depository - Goodreads
Purchases made support this blog
Tilda has never given much thought to dragons, attending instead to her endless duties and wishing herself free of a princess's responsibilities.
When a greedy cousin steals Tilda's lands, the young princess goes on the run with two would-be dragon slayers. Before long she is facing down the Wild Hunt, befriending magical horses, and battling flame-spouting dragons. On the adventure of a lifetime, and caught between dreams of freedom and the people who need her, Tilda learns more about dragons—and herself—than she ever imagined.
- The main character, Tilda, has a deformed foot. She can get around with a crutch, but it is painful and she has a clear limp. Some in the castle don’t treat her well, but there are a number of secondary characters who love Tilda for her wit, bravery, strength, and kindness. This is the first fantasy book I’ve read with a main character with such a pronounced disability who is well-developed and strong.
- Dragons! There are obviously dragons in Handbook for Dragon Slayers and they get really interesting. There is always more to dragons than meets the eye ;-).
- A fantasy element I was not expecting were the magical horses from The Wild Hunt. These horses rock and are every horse-loving little girl’s dream. They seem to understand human speech, they are huge, but they love Tilda :D.
- I’m not really sure what the setting for Handbook for Dragon Slayers was supposed to be. It seems to be an alternate medieval history where the dragons and pagan myths are real, but the crusades are happening and references to Christianity pop in here and there. I would have preferred this fun story to be set a little farther from our world, since those references just kept pulling me out of the story.
- Handbook for Dragon Slayers (the ARC mind you), also had some phrases like “No worries” and “all right” which were used as we use them and definitely didn’t fit the fantasy theme. I haven’t been able to check a finished copy, so I’d love feedback on this one.
- Handbook for Dragon Slayers didn’t have a very outside motivated plot. There was some, but mostly Tilda just needed to go through a coming of age story, which is fine, but not what I was hoping for.
Handbook for Dragon Slayers was a fun read with a couple of quirks. I didn’t enjoy it as much as I hoped I would (since honestly, I get super excited as soon as dragons are mentioned!), but I think many others will enjoy this one. I’m glad that stories are being written about all types of strong people, including those whose bodies aren’t what we immediately think of when we think hero. Magical horses were more prominent in this story than dragons until the end though, so if you like the idea of magical and awesome horses from the the Wild Hunt, go for it!