About the Book!
From the internationally bestselling author of the Artemis Fowl series: Eoin Colfer’s first adult fantasy novel is a hilarious, high-octane adventure about a vodka-drinking, Flashdance-loving dragon who’s been hiding out from the world – and potential torch-carrying mobs – in a Louisiana bayou . . . until his peaceful world’s turned upside down by a well-intentioned but wild Cajun tearaway and the crooked (and heavily armed) law officer who wants him dead.
Squib Moreau may be swamp-wild, but his intentions are (generally) good: he really wants to be a supportive son to his hard-working momma Elodie. But sometimes life gets in the way – like when Fake Daddy walked out on them leaving a ton of debt, or when crooked Constable Regence Hooke got to thinking pretty Elodie Moreau was just the gal for him . . .
An apprenticeship with the local moonshine runner, servicing the bayou, looks like the only way to pay off the family debts and maybe get Squib and his momma a place in town, far from Constable Hooke’s unwanted courtship and Fake Daddy’s reputation.
Unfortunately for Squib, Hooke has his own eye on that very same stretch of bayou – and neither of them have taken into account the fire-breathing dragon hiding out in the Louisiana swamp . . .
I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Netgally for review and can confirm all opinions and thoughts are my own.
Having not previously read one of Eoin Colfers books before I was unprepared for his writing style which, to put it lightly, is rather on the quirky side. There were a few moments when I had first started reading that I wondered whether this book was for me, but I powered through and boy am I glad I did.
Squib Moreau really does not have the best of luck. Out on the river one night he sees Constable Hooke, the literal worst person in the world and of course officer of his town, commit a gruesome and cold blooded murder. The constable see’s someone scurrying through the bushes and, determined to leave no witnesses, lobs a grenade onto the island poor unsuspecting Squib is hiding on. Only Squibs not alone, Hooke can’t seem to understand why the Grenade comes flying back towards his boat, and it takes Squib a while to realise why his being held upside-down by something that resembles a giant alligator. Squib manages to escape without being roasted alive, but neither him nor Vern, the last living Dragon (he thinks) are aware how their fates are now tied together… hopefully for the better.
If there’s one thing Colfer knows how to write its intriguing characters. Squib is a smarter than he looks, and acts most of the time, boy simply trying to make a living and protect his lovely momma from the clutches of Constable Hooke. If that means doing shopping for a grumpy Dragon with a tendency to roast before question then that’s what it takes. He has an innocent and almost naeve charm about him that has you rooting for a happy ending, or as happy as he can get. Vern is a flash dance loving, beer drinking and oil guzzling Dragon, the last of his kind if you believe him. He credits his long life to staying in the shadows and remaining unknown to humans, so when one literally appears in his yard his tendency leans towards kill now, ask questions never. It’s only when he finds out that Squib may come in useful he decides not to roast the poor boy, and I loved seeing their hesitant and sometimes testing friendship emerge through the book. Constable Hooke, I don’t think there is a word for how much I disliked that man. I find it rare in books nowadays to have a character that I simply hate. Baddies normally have some childhood trauma, or redeem themselves towards the end of the book but Hooke creeped me the hell out. I rushed through his chapters, not wanting to delve too much into his mindscape and there were parts of the book that made the hairs on my arm stand on end.
There was no romance in this book at all, unless you count the uber creepy Hooke’s attempts to woo Squibs mum ( and you shouldn’t because that s*** is toxic). The main relationship was shown through an unlikely and sometimes tested friendship. Can a Dragon who has lived through the centuries being persecuted by the human race learn to be friends with one. You could definitely feel Vern’s inner turmoil, grudgingly admitting that Squib isn’t like the other humans he knew, while at the same time being unwilling to let his walls down for fear of being betrayed. I really enjoyed seeing their friendship blossoming both though their interactions and inner thoughts. Their scenes together has me in stitches at certain points and on the edge of my seat at others.
The authors writing style is unique to say the least. As I stated I had never read one of his books before, and had read some so/so reviews so I had reasonably open expectations going in, which is probably why I enjoyed the book so much. The book is based in the New Orleans Bayou and the language plays on that. He uses local dialect termanology, which threw me at certain points, and he uses a lot of descriptive writing which can sometimes put me off, but his humorous take on things and general writing style had my flying through the pages:
“Nevertheless, and to his credit, Squib did not hesitate but dived into that latch like there was a fantasy land on the other side where folks were just waiting to dub him a Prince.”
With a story like this there was pretty much no limit on how weird it could be, which is good because I feel this book isn’t going to be an instant hit. People may be put off by the premise, or by the first few chapters like I nearly was. All I can say is trust in that the author knows exactly what he is doing. It is weird? Hell yes! Is there a dismemberment of an unknown species? Yes. Does someone use a Pizza slice to cover their nether regions? Yes. Do you learn more about Dragons nether regions that you felt you needed too? Also yes. Yet this bizarre and wholly unique tale wormed its way into my heart. I think some people may be expecting this to be as light as his YA books were, and though there are definitely light and humorous parts, there were some dark and disturbing parts as well as characters. I will talk more about trigger warnings at the end of my review but I feel strongly that there should be some put out there for people wanting to read the book. This is an Adult book, and with that comes significantly less barriers than there would be in YA, however at parts I found myself curling around myself almost protectively, and can see some parts causing serious damage to readers if they are not warned.
Despite the dark side to this book I’m glad this was my first read of the year, starting it off on a mainly humorous and positive note. An easy 4/5 for me. There were some parts/people I found problematic (Hooke) and the book should definitely come with some trigger warnings: Animal/being abuse, dismemberment and general harm written in detail, a character with serious psychopathic tendencies & I would also warn anybody who has suffered abuse to be wary before reading this book. Though there was no abuse on page, Hooke’s character often had thoughts about it including one point where he thought ‘put one hand round her throat and walk her backwards into the house. Wasn’t no one around to see.’ His parts of the book were in parts extremely disturbing and people should definitely be wary before reading.