Hardcover, 256 pages
Published May 30th 2017 by Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Source: Raincoast Books
I’m a big fan of Stephanie Burgis (she wrote The Unladylike Adventures of Kat Stephenson and a few more adult fantasy novels that I am quite fond of) so when I found out that she had a new MG coming out, I was understandably excited. Imagine my pleasure when I found out that the book or rather series focuses on a dragon who can turn into a human form PLUS who loves chocolate?
I was sold, you guys. Anyway, I was lucky enough to get a review copy and made short work of the book. I enjoyed reading it a lot and if you have time, maybe I can persuade you to read it too.
The book is about Aventurine who begins the book as a dragonlet who is very much putout at not being old enough/strong enough/mean enough to go out of the network of caves her extended family lives in. One day when no one is around or paying attention she slips out of the cave and goes traipsing down the mountain, convinced she is more than ready to hunt her own human. Only she doesn’t count on the sneaky ways of human beings and after indulging in this delicious stuff she finds out is called chocolate, she finds herself turned into a human girl and her prey gone.
Aventurine’s miseries begin then as she has no idea how to be human. She has all the sensibilities of a dragon without the shape of one. She is immediately picked up by a conniving woman and her henpecked husband who promise to deliver her to the city where she can find more of the ambrosial chocolate but who, of course, have no intention of doing any such thing. But Aventurine is nothing if not determined. She is determined to apprentice herself to a chocolate maker and that’s what she does…eventually.
Aventurine is a wonderful protagonist. She’s full of thorns initially and her journey to finding out more about herself is an engaging one. She is also an Other and remains one even in the end but instead of trying to fit in, I feel like she embraces both her selves. The side characters are intriguing and the friendship that springs up between Aventurine and a fellow adventuress is great fun.
The story also has a lot of heart. What it means not to know what and who you are when everyone else around you seems to have everything figured out is one of the things Aventurine deals with. The setup is familiar and kids who read fantasy will immediately find themselves at home in what seems like a medieval city with a little bit more anachronistic details than usual.
The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart is sure to appeal to fans of fantasy and fun. I recommend it.