Ali and Bella's father has left their family to go in search of a dragon to tame. Quite simply, they need the money that the sale of a dragon would bring. Shortly after he leaves, Ali finds a dragon of her own, Pearl. Pearl has been badly injured and Ali decides it's up to her to nurse her back to health. However, a dragon is a dangerous thing and not everyone understands Ali's need to save this creature.
I'll be honest. I read the first chapter and I was disappointed. Long. Dry. Slow. Then I continued reading. As soon as you get past the first chapter, this book is incredible. The characters and lifestyles will pull you right in. It's a different society from that of ours today.
This is an intense fantasy/mystery. What exactly is Pearl? We have all these creatures that are in places they shouldn't be. We have different cultures of people interspersed. Some seem to have almost magical or healing powers. We definitely have a variation in religions going on. Then, behind all of this, we have the mystery of what happened to the dragontamer? What about To-Ho-Ne, the elderly lady that lives with Ali and Bella and their mother? Why is their mother called Princess when they live in an adobe hut? Why do they have to change their names when they come into town? Mostly, why is the empire looking for the dragontamer, whether dead or alive?
I found myself so immersed in this book that all of a sudden I came back to reality and realized I only had a few pages left. My brain began scrambling! Wait! There are too many loose ends and not enough pages left to tie them all up! The book does stop in a great place, but it left me wondering and waiting and anxious to dive into the next. As fantasy goes, this is one of the most captivating I've read in a long time.
If you pick this up and the first chapter seems a bit off-putting, jump straight to the second chapter. Then, when you find yourself in love with the story, go back and read the first chapter. You need to read it for informational purposes, but it's much more enjoyable reading after you care about what's going on. Just save it for yourself as a flashback whenever you get to the end of one of the chapters.
Note for dragon lovers: These dragons are incredibly vivid and powerful. There are several different species and they're developed to the point that you can actually visualize their smell and texture. If you're a dragon person, this is definitely one you don't want to miss. The portrayal of the dragons alone makes this a worthwhile read.
*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Shawn