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Book Review: Dragonfall by L. R. Lam

Book Review: Dragonfall by L. R. Lam

Long ago, humans betrayed dragons, stealing their magic and banishing them to a dying world. Now, centuries later, the legendary creatures are worshipped as gods; feared and revered in equal measure by the descendants of those who cast them out. But gods have long memories and the dragons haven’t forgiven the treachery that forced them from their homeland. Stuck on the other side of the veil, they’ve been biding their time, resting their hopes on a prophecy that might save them all and allow them to break back into the world that was stolen from them.

Meanwhile, in the human world, thief and orphan Arcady dreams of a life among the powerful nobility. But what they really want is revenge. A chance to redeem their family name and absolve the Plaguebringer – a dark figure blamed for creating a magic-fuelled sickness and the most hated person in Lumet history. Casting a spell to steal a powerful artefact from the Plaguebringer’s bones, Arcady unwittingly drags Everen – the last male dragon in existence – into the human world. Trapped and disguised as a human, Everen realises that the key to regaining his true power – and freeing the rest of his kind – lies with Arcardy. All he needs is to bond with the cunning thief, and then kill them. But what neither of them anticipate is the genuine connection and attraction that grows between them – something that threatens both their plans and their fates.

With some novels, you can tell within the very first chapter that you’ve found a book you’ll categorically fall in love with. Other times, it takes a little longer for the story and its characters to worm their way into your heart. For me, Dragonfall falls into the latter category. It throws readers headfirst into a complex fantasy world with such a complicated history that it’s easy to initially feel lost and confused by the phraseology and intricate magical system. But stick with the story and it’s that same cleverly woven and richly detailed fantasy world-building that ultimately allows you to fully immerse yourself in Arcady and Everen’s entwined destinies.

I had stolen a key before, of course, when I had broken into one of the few locked rooms in Vere Celene. I had found a prophecy that had proved to be another type of key, one that had let me fall between worlds. All that was left was to pick your defences.”

Whilst the centuries old feud between dragons and humans fuels both protagonists’ missions, pushing them ever closer to having to make a devastating and difficult choice, it’s the characters themselves – and their blossoming attachment – who give the book its soul. L. R. Lam populates their story with morally grey characters that trick, cheat and backstab at every turn. Arcady and Everen are just as guileful and conspiratorial as each other. They both have their own vengeful motives and their suspicious natures leads to a sparky rapport that sizzles across their respective chapters. Their unwilling and tentative alliance forces them to do something that doesn’t come naturally: put their trust in a stranger. It’s what grows from that hard-earned trust – friendship, desire, a bright hope for a different future – that will have readers racing through the second half of the book, eager to see who makes it out alive with their hearts unscathed.

Alongside Arcady and Everen’s perspectives, Lam delves into a few other characters’ POVs – namely Sorin, an assassin of sorts, and Cassia, Everen’s sister stuck in the dying land of Vere Celene. These sporadic chapters help to give an insight into what’s going on in the wider world(s) and form a bigger picture of the various factions – both human and dragon – who all having something to gain and lose. However, these characters aren’t given enough page time to allow readers to care about them in the same way they grow to care about Arcady and Everen. At times, the inclusion of these extra perspectives almost feel superfluous to the story but their importance and relevance becomes clear as the book nears the end.

The best parts of Dragonfall are the quieter, intimate moments between Arcady and Everen, which are filled with a sense of aching longing tinged with regret, rage and fear. It’s the ultimate enemies-to-lovers queer romance which plays out naturally, without anything feeling rushed or forced. There’s also a tense Six of Crows-esque heist which brings together a band of rebel thieves who are more than worthy of their own full-length novel. More of the Marricks in the next two books please!

It might take Dragonfall a while to get going but as the characters and their fates become inescapably entangled, it soon evolves into the kind of fast-paced, inclusive and emotional fantasy book that has you thinking about the story even when you’re not reading it. A surprise twist at the end throws everything wide open too, raising the stakes for the sequel and making this an epic series you’ll want to see through to the end.


Dragonfall was published by Hodderscape on 2 May 2023

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