Creel’s family doesn’t have much money, so her aunt hits upon the idea of sending Creel to the local dragon. But Creel isn’t interested in waiting around for a knight to come rescue her, and instead bargains with the dragon for her freedom – and a pair of very special blue slippers. On the road to the capitol where she plans to seek her fortune as a dressmaker, Creel befriends another dragon who is very surprised by her footwear, but it’s not until she reaches the capitol and finds herself embroiled in a tangle of conspiracy, diplomatic intrigue, magic, and a very cute prince that Creel begins to suspect that her slippers are more powerful than she ever imagined.
I’ve mentioned before on this blog that I’m not a vampires girl and I’m not a fairies girl. What do I like, then? Dragons. Dragons are what I like. And dragons who are befriended by spunky heroines who then save the kingdom are the kind of dragons I like best of all. So you can bet I was happy to pick up Dragon Slippers, which features exactly that, and in spades.
Now, Dragon Slippers is not a perfect book. It’s George’s first published novel, and it shows; the prose is a bit amateurish, the transitions are weak, and the supporting characters are fairly flat. With the exception of Creel, no one has a history, or any particular motivations for acting the way they do that go any deeper than happening to belong to the good side or the bad side. Most of them are fairly likeable, but they’re not terribly interesting. A perfect example: when Creel first starts working in a dress shop in the city, her fellow assistants are the pretty Marta and Alle and the plain, crippled, put-upon Larkin. She immediately assumes that the pretty ones are catty and the plain one is nice, but the plain one turns out to be a puritanical traitor, and the pretty ones to be sweet, loyal, and friendly. It’s an interesting switch on the usual clichés of supporting female characters, but we never find out why Larkin is so very evil, or get any greater depth on Marta, who becomes Creel’s best friend, so the switch is kind of wasted. That is, the whole point of confounding readers’ expectations like that is to replace two-dimensional stereotypes with well-rounded characters, but George simply replaced two-dimensional stereotypes with…more two-dimensional stereotypes.
The end of the book was also handled rather awkwardly. It’s a pretty huge spoiler, though, so I’ll put it behind a cut: show
One final, very minor quibble: Creel’s specialty as a dressmaker is embroidery inspired by the stained glass windows her dragon friend collects, which is both touching and a fairly unusual skill for a fantasy heroine, but…I have a pretty good eye for color, even if I’m just reading about it, and her color combinations seem…kind of boring at best, tacky at worst? A yellow gown with embellishments in two different shades of green? Or a pale blue one with dark blue and green? I am highly skeptical of Creel’s talent! Someone needs a color wheel.
That said, I did really enjoy the book. Creel was spunky and cute, Prince Luka was appropriately dreamy, and the dragons were pleasingly grumpy. The world-building, especially the twists in the accepted history, were nicely done. All in all, it was a quick, fun read. Dragon Slippers gets three and a half cupcakes, and when the sequel, Dragon Flight, comes out in paperback next month, I will be all over that.
Tags: Jessica Day George