Author: Ava Richardson
Title: Dragon Trials
Series: Return of the Darkening
Genre: High Fantasy
Rating: Three Petals
On the Author's Website:
High-born Agathea Flamma intends to bring honor to her family by following in her brothers’ footsteps and taking her rightful place as a Dragon Rider. With her only other option being marriage, Thea will not accept failure. She’s not thrilled at her awkward, scruffy partner, Seb, but their dragon has chosen, and now the unlikely duo must learn to work as a team.
Seventeen-year-old Sebastian has long been ashamed of his drunken father and poor upbringing, but then he’s chosen to train as a Dragon Rider at the prestigious academy. Thrust into a world where he doesn’t fit in, Seb finds a connection with his dragon that is even more powerful than he imagined. Soon, he’s doing all he can to succeed and not embarrass his new partner, Thea.
When Seb hears rumors that an old danger is reemerging, he and Thea begin to investigate. Armed only with their determination and the dragon they both ride, Thea and Seb may be the only defense against the Darkening that threatens to sweep the land. Together, they will have to learn to work together to save their kingdom…or die trying.
I received this book as an ARC through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
If I were only basing this review on plot, setting, and characterization, this would be a four petal review. All three were excellently written. However, there is one very serious, glaring flaw in the book that meant that this story barely deserved two petals. I decided to split the difference and award three petals.
The world building is probably the book's best part. The whole of the world isn't explained, just the parts that the main characters needed to know to move the plot forward, but it was enough of a glimpse that I can't help being impressed. Every five years young dragons are allowed to fly in search of their riders. They need a navigator, the person that guides them, and a protector, the person that fights for them. Thea and Seb are chosen by a rambunctious young dragon and must learn to work together to become dragon riders. With the threat of the Darkening hanging over them, a mysterious and not-yet-explained evil presence, Thea and Seb know they have to do something to save the dragons and the kingdom. It's a very well crafted plot and the world that supports it is amazingly detailed.
The two main characters themselves, Thea and Seb, are fun to read as well. They each have a distinct personality and I could literally see them growing from children to adults in this book. They're definitely still young adults, but I really liked the way the Richardson wrote how they learned and grew throughout the story.
I also really liked the cover art, which is what drew me to the book in the first place. I don't know who the artist is, but they deserve recognition for their work.
However, as I said, this book is deeply flawed. Richardson needs to contract with an editor immediately. The book constantly switches tenses. I don't mean the italicized, present tense, internal thoughts of the characters, which the story does also contain. Rather, that in the narrative and descriptions the book kept changing from past to present tense. There were also a few misspelled words, misplaced punctuation, and a general lack of polish. The book was still legible--I've read worse--which is why I gave it two petals for these glaring issues instead of one, but this is something that needs to be fixed if the author wants to sell this book.
It's hard not to recommend a book as well crafted as this one. I really enjoyed the overall plot, the world building, and the characterizations. However, the lack of polish with the editing and formatting of the book made it difficult and even unpleasant to read at times. I do plan to read the sequel whenever it is released.
Maggie reviews paranormal and fantasy novels and novellas. She also interviews authors and hosts giveaways.