To Shape a Dragon’s Breath by Moniquill Blackgoose
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
To Shape a Dragon’s Breath is an exceptional start to a new YA Fantasy series. The world-building was great and I loved the protagonist, Anequs, and the setting of the Academy.
This story follows Anequs, a teen girl, who lives on the remote island of Masquapaug, with her family and peoples.
After Anequs finds an abandoned dragon egg, she brings it back to her village and they guard over it, keeping it safe. Once the baby dragon hatches, it chooses Anequs and they are bonded.
The people of the village are delighted. In a previous time, their society had many dragons and those prosperous times are still remembered well in song and story.
After the baby dragon chooses Anequs, She becomes their only Nampeshiweisit; a person with a special relationship with dragons.
Unfortunately, there is no one left alive who remembers the old ways and can teach Anequs what she needs to know to safely raise and train the dragon.
For that and other reasons, Anequs needs to enroll in a private academy, far away on the mainland, where she will be registered as, and learn to become, a dragoneer.
We follow Anequs as she and her dragon, Kasaqua, travel to the city and enroll in the Academy. It’s Anequs first time living amongst the Anglish and it’s jarring; definitely not the easiest transition for her.
We get to meet the other students, as well as the Professors and get a front row seat to their classes and the inherent racism found there.
This story takes us through Anequs entire first year and leaves off in a great spot for the continuation of the story. I’m excited about the possibilities of the second book.
Blackgoose developed a lush and detailed world with this book. There was a lot of information given to the Reader involving the magic system, history and society’s relationship to the dragons.
I tried not to get too bogged down in the details, because I could see how trying to remember every single thing could ruin this experience for some Readers. I trusted Blackgoose to be able to weave an impactful tale without me having to take notes while Anequs was at class.
For me, it worked and I can see, as the series, continues, how things that seem foreign at the start as concepts, will just become old hat, the more you read in this world.
I was torn at the end on how to rate this one. It is very impressive in the scope and the world-building. Also, I enjoyed very much the intrigue as Anequs’s presence at the Academy has the potential to shake up the social order.
I also very much enjoyed the growth we see in Anequs as a character. She literally grew leaps and bounds over the course of this story.
However, it did have some pitfalls for me as well. For one, I felt it was a little too long and perhaps there were a few too many details, as far as the content of her classes went, etc.
The pace was slow, particularly around the middle of the story and some of the social circumstances bordered on repetitive. I waxed and waned and ultimately decided, as recently as this morning, to give it a solid 4-star rating.
I did enjoy this one very much and I am definitely going to be picking up the next book. I would recommend this one to anyone who enjoys a lush YA Fantasy, with strong cultural influences and important social commentary.
Thank you so much to the publisher, Del Rey, for providing me with a copy to read and review.
This is a grand debut and I look forward to reading more from Moniquill Blackgoose!