Waters of Nyra, Volume 1 by Kelly Michelle Baker
Never an ordinary dragon, Nyra grew up forbidden to breathe fire or fly. Like her mother before her, she has only known a life of enslavement, held in thrall by mountain dragons, which need Nyra’s ripening wings to secure hunting for the future. But at the cusp of her first flying lesson, new rumors whisper through the herd. Mother pursues friendships in forbidden places, blurring the once succinct enemy line. In a whirlwind of realization, Nyra uncovers a secret in plain sight, one thought unknown to her enslavers, and one putting her at the focal point of rebellion should it come into play. And come it does, but through a terrible accident, killing the slaves’ last chance of escape. To survive, Nyra must conquer the sharp-ended lies cutting her future to ribbons and the war threading in their wake.
Score: 3.5 stars
Plot – 3
Characters – 3.5
Writing – 3.5
I found the book very slow to get going, and at first I struggled to engage with both Nyra and her brother. I think this is mostly because the characters are much younger than I am, and I think, looking back, that they author did a good job of representing pre-teens. Nyra got to grow on me as the book went on, and I really liked the character of their mother, Thaydra. she’s smart, optimistic and determined, but still bears the pain of the previous failed escapes. There were a few characters like Opalheart who I felt as if I was missing their purpose. Maybe they will come back more in the later books, but they lost relevance in this book.
When the action is good, it’s very gripping. I found myself flying though the section with the fire. However, the book takes a long time to get going, which meant I struggled with the beginning. The legend is an important point, but Nyra’s boredom and sleepiness in the scenes where it is being retold meant I was not engaging with it. (I do love the twist on it that is revealed at the end and that does make me interested in the second book.) There was also too much time spent on things like how young dragons learn to fish, which slowed down the pacing. I have the feeling the sequel will be better paced.
The ending felt a little rushed, in contrast. It definitely leaves the story wide open for a sequel, but the stop point felt a little arbitrary. I didn’t feel like I had a conclusion to this book. There are also some things in the last chapter, particularly around Thaydra, that I wish had been gone into in more depth for emotional reasons.
The language is very pretty, and I didn’t notice much in the way of errors. At points, I felt the the sound of the words over-took the meaning of them, so there were pleasant sounding phrases that didn’t mean much, but that wasn’t a frequent issue. I think this book will be best received by middle grade readers with a strong vocabulary, but will also be enjoyed by young adults who want an easy escape full of fantastical creatures.
Please note: I’m still finding my feet reviewing, so the format may vary from book to book until I get comfortable. If you have a self-published novel, use the contact form to drop me a pitch. I’ll only taking on very few at a time, but if I like the sound of it, I’ll be in touch. I enjoy fantasy, horror and sci-fi and you get bonus points if your book has a gay romance.