Review – A Natural History of Dragons (The Memoirs of Lady Trent #1), Marie Brennan

Here be Dragons. Here be a happy Judith. Here be a magnificent book.

Goodreads Summary:

Everyone knows Isabella, Lady Trent, to be the world’s preeminent dragon naturalist. Here, at last, in her own words, is the story of a pioneering spirit who risked her reputation, prospects, and her life to satisfy scientific curiosity; of how she sought true love despite her lamentable eccentricities; and of her thrilling expedition to the mountains of Vystrana, where she made discoveries that would change the world.

I’ve been eyeing this book up for what feels like years so imagine my joy when I discovered it was in the Amazon Kindle sale for only 99 of my english pence. I didn’t even breach my £1 a day budget (times are hard…I spend too much money). I’m so glad I finally got to read this book and I’ll tell you why.

Isabella is the most amazing character I have come across in a long while. Imagine a character who is stuck in an Austen-esque world who is fully aware of the limitations that presents but manages to subvert them all the same, and she’s writing her memoirs as a badass old woman who doesn’t care what anyone thinks of her anymore. I wanted her to be real, I wanted to go to every lecture this woman would ever do, I wanted to be her best friend and granddaughter all at the same time. Seriously, there were moments where I thought she was going to be a real Mary Sue or that she was going to be uncharacteristically boisterous (which wouldn’t fit with the period) but everything she did just made me love her more.

The plot was fascinating, a trip to far off lands, the threat of dragon attack, a mystery no one can understand, DRAGONS, urgh this was so good. I’m so happy I read this.

I’ve made a lot of claims to hate first person perspective and recently, by chance, most of what I have read has been in first person and…I haven’t hated it. This is another exception that is gradually proving my rule to be false. But in this case I think it is because the voice of Isabella is so well captured by Brennan. She observes so much, which makes sense because she’s a natural historian, so you don’t feel like you’re missing out on any juicy information. Add to that the insightful (and often amusing) observations made by her older self, writing with hindsight, and you’ve got yourself a recipe for a fascinating read.

Maybe it’s my academic background, but I savoured all of the academic details which were woven into the text. Brennan hasn’t just written ‘ooh look a dragon’ instead she’s really thought about a world in which dragons are as much a species as, for example, big cats. There are different varieties, species, breeds and they become as fascinating to the reader as they are to Isabella.

In case you couldn’t tell, I absolutely loved this book. Recently I seem to have hit a streak of discovering books that are just my cup of tea. I’m eagerly anticipating reading the other books in the series as and when I can get my hands on them so keep your eyes peeled for upcoming reviews!

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

Have you read any of these books? What did you think? Do they stay as good as the first one? Let’s chat about it!

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