Thursday, June 4, 2015

Review: The Dragons of Heaven by Alyc Helms


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
Street magician Missy Masters inherited more than the usual genetic cocktail from her estranged grandfather. She also got his preternatural control of shadow and his legacy as the vigilante hero, Mr Mystic. Problem is, being a pulp hero takes more than a good fedora and a knack for witty banter, and Missy lacks the one thing Mr Mystic had: experience. Determined to live up to her birthright, Missy journeys to China to seek the aid of Lung Huang, the ancient master who once guided her grandfather.
Lung Huang isn't quite as ancient as Missy expected, and a romantic interlude embroils her in the politics of Lung Huang and his siblings, the nine dragon-guardians of creation. When Lung Di-Lung Huang's brother and mortal enemy-raises a magical barrier that cuts off China from the rest of the world, it falls to the new Mr. Mystic to prove herself by taking down the barrier.
As Missy prepares to confront Lung Di, she faces a tough decision: remain loyal to Lung Huang and see China destroyed, or side with the bad guy and save the world.

MY TAKE:
I found the premise of this book intriguing, and the book was actually better than what I had expected from the description.

In The Dragons of Heaven, Missy wants to follow in her grandfather's footsteps as an adventure hero. However, she finds that she will need further training, and heads to China to meet, and hopefully train under, her grandfather's teacher Lung Huang/Jian Huo. Love blossoms between them and this sets into motion a series of events that could upset the balance of the universe and destroy the world as they know it.

Where do I even begin? First of all, I enjoyed the mythology here. Some I am already familiar with from what I've read in books and seen in movies and shows. It's a wonderful way to get acquainted with the basics of ancient Chinese culture.

The plot was complicated and convoluted, but in a way that exhibits the characters' foresight, patience and planning rather than making it seem like the author is trying to do too many things at once. The circumstances of the final battle was actually different from how I understood it based on the description above, and I'm glad that it happened the way it did in the book, because I really wanted it to be something that wouldn't cast Jian Huo in too negative a light. Why? Because I really like him and Missy together.

The funny thing is I'm sort of meh on Missy. I mean, I can relate to her thoughts as a mother and as a wife, but the other stuff is too rash or impulsive for me to actually be able to relate to her on that level. However, every time she and Jian Huo were together, I really liked her. It speaks a lot about how their romance is written. Sometimes, when I'm not very interested in the heroine or I don't like her at all, I start hating and skimming through the romance. Here, the romance actually helped me like Missy more.

I liked Jian Huo very much, though. Yes, he's manipulative to a degree, but the rest is consistent with what I would expect from a Dragon. I thought he was the perfect match for Missy. Their romance, while marred with circumstances that most marriages don't actually face, do resemble most marriages. There are arguments and secrets, but talking it out helps. The ending made me quite happy and I'm curious to see what happens in the next book.

Thanks to NetGalley and Angry Robot Books for the e-ARC.

THE GOOD:

  1. Missy and Jian Huo's romance is quite realistic.
  2. The mythology is interesting.
  3. There's plenty of potential for this to be a memorable series.

THE BAD:

  1. The story alternates between Then and Now, which can be disorienting sometimes. 


READ IT IF:

  1. You like Chinese mythology.
  2. You like realistic romances.
  3. You are looking for a series that has something new to offer. 

RATING:
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