ARC Review – Dragonfall

Hello, everyone! Today I’m reviewing Dragonfall by L. R. Lam, which is the first book in The Dragon Scales Trilogy. I’ve been looking forward to reading this one for a while, and it releases next week (May 2, 2023).

Long-banished dragons, revered as gods, return to the mortal realm in the first in this magical new epic fantasy trilogy from a bestselling author

Long ago, humans betrayed dragons, stealing their magic and banishing them to a dying world. Centuries later, their descendants worship dragons as gods. But the gods remember, and they do not forgive.

Thief Arcady scrapes a living on the streets of Vatra. Desperate, Arcady steals a powerful artifact from the bones of the Plaguebringer, the most hated person in Lumet history. Only Arcady knows the artifact’s magic holds the key to a new life among the nobles at court and a chance for revenge.

The spell connects to Everen, the last male dragon foretold to save his kind, dragging him through the Veil. Disguised as a human, Everen soon learns that to regain his true power and form and fulfill his destiny, he only needs to convince one little thief to trust him enough to bond completely–body, mind, and soul–and then kill them.

Yet the closer the two become, the greater the risk both their worlds will shatter.

***Thank you to DAW for providing a copy of the book via NetGalley. My review contains my honest thoughts about my reading experience.***

After seeing the stunning cover on this one, I just knew I had to read this book. I mean… look at it. It’s gorgeous. Then I read the synopsis and was even more excited. Dragons and a queer enemies to lovers romance? It seemed like the book was written specifically for me. lol. Unfortunately, the execution of the story faltered a bit too much for me to love this one.

One of the main problems was the world-building. It was a mess. The first 15% of the book was nothing but info dumps. I can get behind a good info dump, though, if the stuff I’m learning is fun to read. The info dumps in this book felt like a boring lecture that went completely over my head. None of it was super clear, but I was willing to give the author a chance to make it better as the book went on. They didn’t. So much about the magic and world-building felt contradictory or nonsensical, especially the bond between Arcady and Everen. It seemed to do whatever the plot needed at the time with little real explanation. I did enjoy learning about the history of the civilization, though, and I wish there had been a bigger focus on those aspects of the world-building. The premise of it all was fascinating. It just didn’t pay off in the story in a way I found satisfying.

The most positive thing about the world-building was its queer normative focus. It had a cool take on gender that I enjoyed learning about. The language system also centered sign language as the trade language used by different cultures. Many of the characters were hearing impaired, and I liked how the entire society accommodated those with disabilities. I don’t think I’ve ever read anything else quite like it, and I appreciated the unique setup of those aspects of this world.

My favorite thing about the book was the characters. Once the story switched out of lecture mode and started focusing on them, I enjoyed it so much more. Everen was a fallen dragon prince who hated humans for what they’d done to his people. I had a lot of fun just watching him learn how to be human. He was arrogant and believed himself to be better than humans. He resented being bound to one, and I loved how he slowly learned to value human life, which led to a massive internal conflict of whether he could put his people’s welfare ahead of the existence of humanity. Arcady was a thief who had lost almost everyone they cared about in life. They were on a mission to make something of themself and prove their family’s dark past wasn’t true. Along the way, they got accidentally bound to Everen. They slowly grew closer as Arcady taught Everen how to be a thief in order to pull off a great heist that will change their life. I loved their slow burn relationship and how they developed a true friendship over the course of their time together.

The plot was a bit hit or miss. It had some exciting moments, but it definitely dragged and meandered at points, especially as Everen was learning to be a thief. Some of the planning steps of the heist seemed forced and somewhat pointless. For example, the need for the card game and attempting to get close to the mark at church made no sense at all when they were planning to break into the person’s house beforehand anyway. In general, I thought the heist part of the plot was pretty boring, which is odd because I usually enjoy heist stories. I did like the opportunities it created for character interaction, though. So, I didn’t hate it even though I wasn’t super invested in the heist story itself. Finally, the ending was exciting despite it being mired in confusing world-building like the rest of the book. Things definitely went out on a high note, and I’m curious to see what a sequel could bring.

Overall, I didn’t love this book as much as I thought I would. The info-dumps, fairly boring plot heist, and confusing world-building really put a damper on things. However, I did love the characters and had fun getting to know them and watching their relationship grow. So, I’ll probably pick up the sequel just so I can spend some more time with them. Therefore, I rate this book 3.25 out of 5 stars.

6 thoughts on “ARC Review – Dragonfall

  1. I’m so sorry this was a little bit of a let down! It looked so good! Admittedly, the heist portion is a bit of a turn off for me, personally–I’m not that interested in heist plots. I’m still semi-curious about it, though, so perhaps it’ll be a library read down the road.

    • I typically love heist plots. Six of Crows is one of my favorite books, and I rarely come across a heist story I don’t like. This one was just not it. lol. I definitely think you should still give it a shot, though, because there was plenty to like about this book. I’m hopeful I’ll enjoy the second book more because it seems to be going in the direction of an academia setting, which I love. I just hope the author can pull it off better than the heist.

  2. Great review! Such a bummer to hear the writing, world-building and plot weren’t great for you though. At least the characters were interesting and their interactions kept you wanting to read! Maybe the world-building and everything else will get better as the series continues?

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