Review: The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart by Stephanie Burgis

dragonchocheartburgisPublished by: Bloomsbury Publishing
ISBN 13: 9781408880319
Published: February 2017
Pages: 249
Format reviewed: eVersion from NetGalley
Site: Author Site
Goodreads: Book Page
Stars: Five out of Five
Lists: Favourites and Recommended

Aventurine is a young dragon and horrified at the idea of having to wait until she’s thirty before she can go out of the family network of caves and see the world. Until then, her scales aren’t strong enough to protect her from humans and their bullets and spells. It doesn’t help that her older siblings are utterly perfect – Citrine could speak and write twenty other languages by the time she was Aventurine’s age, where Aventurine can only speak six. Their brother, Jasper, studies philosophy and waits quietly and patiently until he can safely leave the cave.

Aventurine, true to her name, isn’t one for waiting. She squeezes out of a small bolder-filled tunnel that leads to the outside world – injuring herself along the way, exactly as her mother warned. Furious, Aventurine doesn’t let this hold her back and makes her bid for freedom, finally finding herself under blue skies and able to smell food and sets off to prove she can look after herself – if she can manage to hunt and bring something back, this will prove she’s more than capable and ready for the outside world at large. Though of course, nothing’s that easy.

The plot throughout the book is unexpected, varied, and pretty damn perfect in every way. The expansive character list is easy to keep track of, even though I think it’s slightly more than we usually see in a middle grade book (proving it can be done, and done well), and the end, while perfect, made me wish we had more to go on with! I don’t want to leave Aventurine just yet.

This is a beautiful and whimsical middle-grade book, absolutely spell-bounding and perfect for a cosy weekend read so you can lose yourself in its pages. I confess I haven’t read anything novel-length by Burgis before, though I have read her short fiction that’s been in Twelfth Planet Press or Fablecroft collections and I’ve always commented in these past reviews that her piece in particular has always been one of the few I wish we got to see a novel-length of, because she has a way of introducing us to characters that we then don’t want to leave. I wanted to devour this book in a night, but then I also didn’t want it to be over so I kept it close, reading a few chapters here and there, drawing it out over a weekend.

Much like the book Chocolat by Joanne Harris is all about the beauty of chocolate, this is the same for younger readers, utterly delightful and leaves you desperate for some good Italian dark hot chocolate – especially if it has a little cinnamon and chilli mixed along in it.

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