Book Review: Dragons of the Valley

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review

If I hadn’t read this as part of the Blogging for Books program, I would have stopped after 3 pages. However, I felt a sense of obligation to give a proper review, so I suffered through the whole thing. I had high hopes for Dragons of the Valley because a) it has dragons in it, usually a win for me, and b) the premise – with the three interlinked statues and an artist-turned warrior – seemed an interesting fantasy setup. I was unfortunately very disappointed.

The writing in this book is just awful! There is almost no variation in the sentence structure throughout the entire book, no voice to the storytelling, no voice to the characters, and the figures of speech are crudely executed. Occasionally you’ll run into a piece of dialog that seems to remember that the characters need distinctive voices, and gives a frail attempt at doing the job before falling back to the same tone for everyone. Reading the story was agonizing because of the repetition of Subject-Verb-Object sentences with very similar length. And don’t give me any flack about target audience! There are plenty of examples of young adult fiction with good basic writing. But please, don’t take my word for it, check out the sneak peek of the first few chapters on the publisher website.

Besides the writing style obstacle, the style of fantasy in this book was really bland. I was excited at first at the mention of so many different races, but there is so little visualization of the various races that it may as well be 7 styles of humans with made up fantasy style names. It felt like a lot of the fantasy elements weren’t very unique, and had some pretty overbearing TSR-feeling fantasy standards. The kimen were very much like kender (only not as interesting) and the wizard very much like Fizban (only not as endearing).

Lastly, the religious messaging in the book was completely transparent, and took me out of the world of the story (what little I was able to immerse myself in) every single time. It was not elegant at all as an allegory.

The one saving grace of this book is that there were indeed dragons in it. That won it 1 star instead of a half of a star from me.