Book Review: A Dragon for William by Julie E. Czerneda

Title: A Dragon for William

Author: Julie E. Czerneda

Publisher: Daw

Publication Date: December 3, 2019

Genres: Epic Fantasy

Shelves: Female-author

It may not be a full-length novel, and it may be a side-story that doesn’t feature Jenn or Wisp, and it may take place outside the boundaries of Marrowdell, but A Dragon for William is still a welcome return to the fantasy realm of Julie E. Czerneda – and one that also works as a entry point into Night’s Edge for new readers who still have A Turn of Light & A Play of Shadow to discover.

At first glance, since it does take place outside Marrowdell, this presents as rather ordinary, a high fantasy tale of politics and family, rather than one of wonder and magic. It opens with talk of treaties, trade disputes, and trains, and then proceeds to pick up the story of Werfol and his family’s return to their summer estate, their real home having been lost to the treaty that divided Vorkoun. It doesn’t take long, however, for the layers beneath the story to emerge, revealing the magic of truedreams, dragons, house toads, and more.

A Dragon for William makes interesting use of the story within a story device as Werfol attempts to capture his dreams as a story. How and why he does so, and to what end, is not for me to say – unravelling that is very much a part of unravelling the story as a whole. What I will say is that I loved the contrast between the story of Werfol and the story by Werfol, and I was captivated by how and why such darkness came to cast a shadow over both tales.

As was the case with the first two Night’s Edge novels, the narrative here is once again strong, different in tone and feeling than Czerneda’s science fiction, but with the same depth of character and emotion. She draws us into this family, invites us to appreciate their connections, and makes us care about their fate – which is not an easy thing to do when so much of the story is told from a child’s perspective.

A Dragon for William is a fantastic little fantasy all on its own, but it’s also an interesting addition to the Night’s Edge mythology, exploring more of the world outside Marrowdell. There is a surprising degree of dread to the tale, more tension than you might expect in something so short, but there are also moments of joy, as well as some pleasant surprises in the latter chapters to help provide balance. If you’re new to the world, you’ll want to keep exploring, and if you’re already a fan, this will remind you of just how much we’re longing for the next book.

Rating: ♀ ♀ ♀ ♀ ♀

P.S. Chancellor Rober Milne? Fantastic guy! Perhaps the best character in the entire saga . . . but I might be a tad biased. 🙂

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