Source: DRC via NetGalley (DAW Books) in exchange for an honest review
Publication Date: May 2, 2023
Synopsis: Goodreads
Purchase Link: Amazon

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Why did I choose to read this book?

I’ve never read anything by this author, so when it popped onto the first page of Most Requested on NetGalley, I decided to give it a go to expand my repertoire.

What is this book about?

The dragons were cast out of the world into a pocket universe, and a prophecy is close to becoming fulfilled that says they will return and reclaim the land as their own. The dragon the prophecy revolves around (Everen) discovers the prophecy, read it, and then tries to run and fulfill it himself, but he falls through a rip in the veil and becomes bonded to Arcady, a shapeshifter whose grandfather was accused of something terrible and he seeks to clear his name. The book follows their bonding, Everen’s attempts to fulfill the prophecy, and Arcady’s big caper which should net them enough money to go to the university and learn all they need to know to clear their family name.

This book is about the bonds we form when we don’t have a choice, and how we discover if those bonds are true or simply forced.

What is notable about this story?

The gender bending and pronoun emphasis throughout the story was handled much differently than I’ve seen it in any other book. About halfway through I realized that I didn’t really know who was any gender and at that point it didn’t really matter, it was just about the characters. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I love a story that does not attach trauma to things like gender identity and instead incorporates it as a normal part of society, and L. R. Lam does this so well.

Was anything not so great?

I have said this about Sarah J. Maas’ work (i.e. the idea of someone only having one Mate/forced to bond or be together) and I’ll say it here: the idea that Everen and Arcady are chained together throughout the book made me very uncomfortable. That Arcady steals Everen’s magic and causes him pain, that they are attracted to each other but not sure if it’s the bond or if they are actually hot for each other, that Everen is a dragon and the cross-species physicality of it is weird…just all very uncomfortable. I think the heart of all of this is the idea of consent. Neither Arcady nor Everen chose to forge this bond, and their actions toward each other are harmful by default, so it was just kind of cringy. Not so much that I didn’t want to read it, but enough to comment on it.

What’s the verdict?

3 stars on Goodreads. I liked it, but I didn’t need it. I will say though that I would highly recommend this book if you have a person in your life who identifies as trans. It’s an excellent example of gender fluidity and Lam writes so well that, like I mentioned previously, you’ll experience it as though it was a completely normal part of society. Representation is important, and while this book did not grab me, I could see it being very important to many people. Definitely check it out for yourself and see what you think.