book review: dragon castle

Dragon Castle is a YA fantasy novel about a boy in Slovakia who is the put-upon prince picking up after his foolish parents and brother all the time. It’s also the story of his ancestor, a hidden prince who plays the fool and defeats a dragon and thence the Dark Lord occupying and defiling his people’s homeland. These two stories are told in parallel (until the contemporary prince starts reading the story about halfway through, which makes for annoying in character motivation for jumping to the legend from thence forward).

If you like fantasy novels, this one is very well crafted. I think the best part of how it works is by making the viewpoint character a worried smart sort who sees his family doing foolish things that work. As readers we can see that the fools might not be so foolish as they seem, but it’s also perfectly understandable that Rashkol would find them infuriating. By the end, when it all comes together (in a nice big fight with magical weapons and yes a dragon) you really get the sense that this story could have been told entirely differently and it would have been just as good.

It’s not quite as amazing as The Hero and the Crown, but it’s in a similar ballpark. I really liked it and it’ll be my go-to fantasy novel recommendation for a while.

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