Recommended for ages 10-14
This is a princess-y book for girl who don’t normally like princess book. Creel, the main character, is not a princess, but she is independent and smart; a rags-to-riches character we’ve started expecting from fantasy heroines.
Orphans Creel and her brother live with their poor aunt and uncle, who have enough children of their own. Creel’s aunt leaves Creel to the local dragon in the hope that either a rich noble or prince will save her and marry her – and share the wealth with the rest of the family – or that the dragon will eat her, giving the family one less mouth to feed. Luckily for Creel, Theoradus the Dragon doesn’t want to eat anyone; he wants to be left alone to enjoy his hoard of shoes (each dragon has his or her own preferred hoard).
Creel strikes out for the king’s city, Feravel, to find her fortune as a seamstress, taking a pair of slippers given to her by Theoradus and befriends two more dragons, Shardas and Feniul, along the way. Upon arriving in Feravel, she finds seamstress work where her embroidery designs gain notice – as do her shoes. The awful princess Amalia, engaged to Feravel’s crown prince Milun, tries to force Creel to surrender the slippers. She ultimately gets them through Creel’s co-worker, Larkin, who Amalia makes a lady-in-waiting if she can get Amalia the slippers.
Amalia’s desire for the shoes has nothing to do with being fashionable, and her engagement to prince Milun is a sham – her father’s kingdom wants to take over Feravel, and the slippers give her the power to control the dragons. Creel must join forces with the king’s younger son, Luka, to find a way to break through to the dragons and bring peace to the land.
I enjoyed this book because it was unexpected. The heroine was intelligent, self-sufficient, and funny – a wry sense of humor permeates the characters without feeling forced or contrived. Jessica Day George carefully builds up without it ever feeling tedious, and she tightly weaves the various characters, plots, and subplots together to keep readers on their toes. Just when I thought I had reached the climax of the book, I realized there was more – and I liked it. The author does not take its young audience for granted.