Dragon Rose is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast. In this version, the beast is a dragon that claims a girl from a local village as a bride every five to seven years. (Goes through them pretty quickly, eh?)
When the flag appears indicating that the dragon will come for another bride, the young women assemble to see whose name will be drawn--to learn who will leave the village and never be heard from again.
The name of Rhianne Menyon's best friend is drawn, and Rhianne does something totally unexpected, volunteering to go in her friend's place. Given that the previous brides are believed to have been eaten by the dragon, this is a tremendous sacrifice.
Strangely, however, although Rhianne professes to believe the previous brides have been eaten by the dragon, emotionally, she seems amazingly cool about it. She says words to the effect that she is frightened, and yet...she doesn't really exhibit the matching behavior.
Of course, she is not eaten. The dragon (in a human form, but cloaked to hide the scales) and his bride have separate suites of rooms, and Rhianne is treated kindly. The dragon asks about her interests or hobbies, and when Rhianne admits her love of painting, she is given all of the paints and canvases she can use.
And then things get pretty bland. Daily behavior is detailed, but somehow the details fail to really explain the growing relationship between Rhianne and the dragon. The foundation for a developing relationship appears to lie almost entirely in the fact that Rhianne doesn't fear the dragon. No shared interests, no inspiring conversations. They have dinner together every evening. The dragon is considerate. During the day, Rhianne paints her dream fella'.
The story is predictable, of course, but it misses putting a heart into the story. There is little suspense, little action, and little depth to the characters. In the original forms of fairy tales, leaving character development thin is fine, but in a retelling, I expect characters with more human qualities--not archetypes, but more fully rounded personalities.
It isn't a bad book, and yet it was not a book that met the promise of the theme and the opening chapters, nor did it offer a deeper examination of the beauty and the beast motif. Sort of ended without any bang, and a faint whimper.
Of course, you have to read it to discover what happened to the other brides.
Fairy Tale Retelling. 2012. Print version: 274 pages.
Read in March; review scheduled for April.