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Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Dragon Rose by Christine Pope

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.


  1. At the beginning of your post I wanted to read this. Now I am not so sure...

  2. At the beginning of your post I wanted to read this. Now I am not so sure...

  3. I have to admit to having been disappointed in this one. But, Kelly, I just read a fantasy for the challenge that was wonderful. I'm bumping it up on my review list because I loved it. The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson is an ARC from NetGalley!

  4. The story of Beauty and the Beast is one of my favorite fairy tales. I tend to expect a lot of re-tellings as a result. It is too bad this one wasn't better as it sure sounded like it could have been.

  5. Yes, the concepts of a dragon as beast and the bride lottery have a lot of promise. A lot of reviewers on Goodreads loved it, but there were others who felt much as I did--that something was missing.

  6. Oh dear - that's a shame - it sounded so promising! I'm currently reading Beauty by McKinley which has started out well (another Beauty and the Beast retelling).
    Lynn :D

  7. I'm eager to hear what you think of McKinley's version. I have it on my list and Spindle's End, as well.

  8. Beauty and The Beast is my favourite fairy tale (well after the dark humorous Rumpelstiltskin.) When you said it was a retelling, I was eager to read the rest. But your review makes me doubt if I'd like this. I do plan to read Robin McKinley's Beauty this month - have you read it?

  9. :) Beauty is on my list! Is there a retelling of Rumpelstiltskin?