Dragon Slippers by Jessica Day George

8/10 A delightful dragon tale.

A quick opening gets us right into the first portion of the story. The aunt and uncle who have taken in Creelisel Carlbrun and her brother Hagen can’t afford the extra mouths and certainly can’t offer a dowry to marry off the plain and freckled young lass. Of course the most logical thing to do is offer Creel up to a nearby dragon. As luck would have it, Theoradus the brown dragon isn’t interested in eating the girl or in fighting a would-be knight or prince for her. Because he’s a dragon of honor, he ends up giving her a pair of fancy blue shoes and sending her on her way.

Ah. If only he had told her why those shoes were so special!

Creel then goes through a cleverly plotted story befriending dragons, learning dragon ways, bumping into friendly princes, making a living as a fine and valued seamstress, and progressing through a mild arc from “I want to be brave” to “I am now brave.” Along the way she runs into a whiny, obnoxious princess—who is a little smarter than she looks—and a bitter apprentice who ends up siding with the wrong team during the latter third of the book. I believed Creel’s good fortune upon entering the city of King’s Seat (where much of the action takes place) was the work of her magic shoes, but once the slippers’ legend was revealed, there really wasn’t an explanation for the incredible luck she had landing a posh job with influential clientele. Despite that little oddity for me, I thoroughly enjoyed being led through the plot and seeing how Creel would figure out her shoe mystery and help overthrow the crisis presented toward the end of the book.

Things started to move quickly when Jessica Day George revealed treachery was afoot. The author’s clever earlier clues provide a great resource for the “good guys” to get help from some of the dragons Creel met on her way to King’s Seat, but I sure don’t want to give away any spoilers.

Dragon Slippers moved with a grace and easy flow that not all fantasy novels can boast. The content is clean and the violence minimal. Parents might caution impressionable minds about the odd religious ideas—the “Triune Gods” that Creel prays to don’t have names from The King James, if you catch my drift. The Dragon Slippers story is obviously a plot with devices that will captivate and please a YA audience while probably introducing some new vocabulary words and complex sentence structure. Some of the names were unwieldy, but that’s half the fun of a YA novel—making up your own pronunciations for stuff. Anyone looking for a fast, fun read with personable, quirky dragons and a hard-working heroine will be pleased to pick up Dragon Slippers.

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