Book Review: One Good Dragon Deserves Another by Rachel Aaron
A review copy was provided by the author/publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Book 2 of Heartstrikers
Publisher: Aaron/Bach, LLC (8/1/15)
Mogsy’s Rating: 5 of 5 stars
I had to wait at least a day after finishing One Good Dragon Deserves Another to write my review, lest I just end up gushing incoherently like a madwoman. That’s because this book was simply amazing. Not only did it manage to be even better than the first book – a magnificent achievement in itself, considering how awesome Nice Dragons Finish Last was and how much I already loved it to pieces – it’s also now vying for the top spot in my list of best books read in 2015.
This sequel takes place not long after the events of book one. Our protagonist Julius, the youngest and nicest dragon in the Heartstriker clan, is feeling happier than he’s ever been in his entire life. Working out of the Detroit Free Zone as a magical pest control specialist with the help of his friend and mage partner Marci, it feels oh so good to be finally free of his tyrant mother and all his cutthroat siblings. But unfortunately for Julius, this respite doesn’t last; before long he’s sucked back into the dragon-eat-dragon world of Bethesda the Heartstriker, and used as a political pawn in a war against a rival clan.
If you think your family is dysfunctional, you should see Julius’. To Bethesda, who values strength and ruthlessness, her youngest son is a total failure of a dragon and she never misses a chance to let him know exactly how she feels. If it weren’t for the efforts of his more forgiving siblings, she would have made a snack out of Julius years ago. But for all that, Bethesda is still his mother, and Julius only wants the best for his clan. When Estella, dragon seer and head of The Three Sisters starts laying an obvious trap for the leader of the Heartstrikers, Julius becomes frustrated that Bethesda’s pride is blinding her to all dangers.
It took only the first chapter to remind me instantly of how astonishingly unique, creative, and addictive this world is. That said, it’s Rachel Aaron so I would have expected nothing less. Everything I’ve read by her thus far from The Spirit Thief to the Paradox sci-fi trilogy she published under her name Rachel Bach have all been bursting at the seams with original and intriguing ideas. But she’s outdone even herself with these Heartstriker books.
My first instincts is to call this Urban Fantasy, but that’s just a small slice of the big picture. There’s also a post-apocalyptic component with traces of mythical lore combined with sci-fi elements. Throw in magic, dragons, and a healthy dose of humor (I laughed out loud so many times – HARD), and that’s still just barely scratching the surface. Not many authors can set out to do something this ambitious and deliver it with such finesse and aplomb. It goes without saying that world-building was fantastic in this book, giving Aaron plenty of opportunities to expand upon the way magic works here, and also answer plenty of questions about dragon history.
And then there are the characters. Where do I even begin? Being the stars of the show, it probably comes as no surprise that I absolutely adored both Julius and Marci. Julius is as lovable as ever and Marci totally steals the show in this book by kicking so much magical ass. But I was also excited when I saw the many familiar faces returning for this sequel. Oh my goodness, Justin! And Bob! Even Chelsie, who is now my new hero, and Ghost, who may have single-handedly turned me into a cat person overnight. Even the villains are superb in this series, from Estella the North Star to the spirit baddies like Algonquin and her top dragon hunter Vann Jeger.
Of course, no character discussion is complete without also a nod to Julius’s big sister Amelia, introduced in this book as the heir to Heartstriker. As part of A-clutch, this makes her one of the oldest and most powerful dragons in the clan, second only to Bethesda herself. She’s also nothing like I expected. It’s not my place to spoil Amelia’s big debut so I’ll leave it at that, but suffice to say it wouldn’t surprise me if after this book she ends up with a pretty sizeable fan club. Like every character in these novels, she is compelling and memorable – a good thing too, considering Julius’ huge family and the number of siblings that play a part in his story.
As an avid Urban Fantasy reader, I just fell in love with this book. Perhaps it’ll come as no surprise that the story has all the action, comedy and thrills you would expect; after all, I’m addicted to this genre precisely because it is so consistently fun and entertaining. But if you want originality and truly stellar storytelling as well? Then there is no contest – this series stands out way above the rest.
What’s even more impressive is that these books are self-published, a personal project by Rachel Aaron. I sincerely wish her the best on her endeavors, because this series deserves all the attention and praise I can give. One Good Dragon Deserves Another blew me away with a plot that just kept on giving and giving, taking me on a wild ride through several arcs that nonetheless fit together so well, with surprising revelations aplenty and underdog heroes to root for every step of the way. Highly, highly recommended!
More on The BiblioSanctum:
Review of Nice Dragons Finish Last (Book 1)