What’s it all about?:
Evie’s shattered ribs have been a secret for the last four years. Now she has found the strength to tell her adoptive parents, and the physical traces of her past are fixed – the only remaining signs a scar on her side and a fragment of bone taken home from the hospital, which her uncle Ben helps her to carve into a dragon as a sign of her strength.
Soon this ivory talisman begins to come to life at night, offering wisdom and encouragement in roaming dreams of smoke and moonlight that come to feel ever more real.
As Evie grows stronger there remains one problem her new parents can’t fix for her: a revenge that must be taken. And it seems that the Dragon is the one to take it.
This subtly unsettling novel is told from the viewpoint of a fourteen-year-old girl damaged by a past she can’t talk about, in a hypnotic narrative that, while giving increasing insight, also becomes increasingly unreliable.
A blend of psychological thriller and fairytale, The Bone Dragon explores the fragile boundaries between real life and fantasy, and the darkest corners of the human mind.
What did I think?:
I got this book free from NetGalley, many thanks to the publishers at Faber and Faber. When we first meet Evie in this novel she is recovering from an operation to mend her ribs, damaged in a horrifying way. The doctors let her take home a fragment of one of her bones that had to be removed, with which the help of her Uncle Ben, she carves into a beautiful dragon. Although at the start a lot of information is not provided, the reader can deduce that Evie is a profoundly unhappy little girl, who has been through a traumatic time, but is now loved completely and unconditionally by her adoptive parents, Amy and Paul who have had a sad loss of their own – their little boy, who died in a car accident along with their brothers wife.
Evie wishes upon a star that her dragon becomes real (because how cool would it be to have a dragon for a pet?!), and her wish comes true. The dragon (who has no name) takes her out of her own sad situation metaphorically and literally and she begins to view the beauty in the environment around her. The dragon becomes her strength and her shoulder to cry on, and imparts useful words of wisdom along the way. But there is a darker side to this tale…. not only is Evie’s past so tragic that it fills the reader full of emotion for her, but the dragon becomes a useful means of exacting revenge on those who deserve it.
This was a stunning, gripping piece of work that I couldn’t believe fell into the realms of YA, as it’s been a while since I’ve read a YA book with such passion and beauty. The magical undertone I’m always a bit of a sucker for, but it was the style of writing and the blend of both the information you are given and that which you have to work out yourself, that had me hook, line and sinker. My favourite characters were Evie, her Uncle Ben and the Dragon (obviously!) which were beautifully realised and completely compelling. I got slightly annoyed by Evie’s adoptive mother Amy at times, as her over-protectiveness got slightly grating, but this was something so slight, it’s hardly worth mentioning. The only other thing is that the copy I received had words stuck together on every single page, which made reading a bit laborious at times, but is not the fault of the author, and did not spoil my enjoyment of this rich and captivating tale.
Would I recommend it?:
But of course!
Star rating (out of 5):