Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Named of the Dragon by Susanna Kearsley

When I read an author, generally the first book by them will hold a special place for me no matter what I read next. In Kearsley's case that would be The Winter Sea. I loved that book and it will likely remain my favourite by her, but this one almost pushed it out of the number one spot. There was so much going on in this book that left me really enthralled with the story! So, The Winter Sea stays in first place, but this one is in a very close second. It's too bad this is one of her books that is harder to get a copy of. It is mostly out-of-print and my library didn't have a copy, so I wound up lucking into a copy at the second-hand bookstore. I will say if you get a chance to read this book, you should!

The main character of the novel is Lyn. She is battling with life at the moment. She has a successful job, but she is still facing demons from the death of her child. Normally she cannot even handle have children around her, but she finds herself spending Christmas with a woman with a young baby and there is not much she can do about it. Actually, she finds herself wrapped up with this woman and her baby in more ways than she could ever have expected. She starts having dreams where a woman is trying to give her a baby to protect and she soon learns that her dreams are connected to events occurring in the present. They bring in an Arthurian connection that I was very excited about. I have an obsession with anything of that nature. I wasn't sure if it was going to work well in the novel, but by the end she had managed to work things in rather well.

One thing I really like about Kearsley is her ability to write characters that I actually find myself interested in and care about. Lyn is one such character. I really felt for her through the events of the novel, and when things didn't seem to be going very well for her I kept hoping that they would improve. She is someone that you want to see come out all right in the end because she really deserves it. People call Kearsley's novels romance novels, but for some reason I can't put that label on them. I just find that there is too much else going on to limit them to any one genre. This one, for example, does have some relationships that are developed, but it also ties in history and mythology. There is also a lot of connections to literature in general through the use of the characters and also by including quotes from famous writers at the beginning of every chapter.

I will point out that this is one of Kearsley's early novels, so it isn't as strong as say The Winter Sea in some areas, but it still manages to capture you from the very first page and take you on a wonderful journey to Christmas in Wales. You will find yourself both loving and hating the characters, but in the end you will be happy that you stayed for the experience. I closed this book and felt very satisfied. This review does not do justice to all the things happening in the book, but hopefully it will entice you to find out what I didn't mention. I look forward to rereading it in the years to come.

The invitation to spend Christmas in Angle, on the Pembrokeshire coast, is one that Lyn Ravenshaw is only too happy to accept. To escape London and the pressures of her literary agency is temptation enough, but the prospect of meeting Booker Prize nominee James Swift - conveniently in search of an agent - is the deciding factor. On holiday she encounters the disturbing Elen Vaughan, recently widowed and with an eight-month-old son whose paternity is a subject for local gossip. Elen's baby arouses painful memories of Lyn's own dead child and strange, haunting dreams, in which a young woman in blue repeatedly tries to hand over her child to Lyn for safekeeping.

Who is the father of Elen's baby? What is the eerie, monstrous creature of Elen's dreams that tries to ensnare her son, and what makes her so sure that Lyn has been sent to protect him? As she begins to untangle the truth behind the stories, the secret she discovers leads Lyn to an encounter with the past that will change her life forever.


  1. Argh! Kelly, don't DO that to me. I just ordered the Kearsley book with the horsey title and now I'll have to get this one, too. You're killing me. The Winter Sea really blew me away, also. Definitely a keeper.

  2. I haven't read this one yet, but I do have it out of the library at the moment. I need to read it now apparently.

  3. I would say that Named of the Dragon is my #3 book (after The Winter Sea and Mariana). Quite a good suspenseful and heart-pounding ending in this tale. (Susanna Kearsley has a link to my review on her website.) I found her brooding playwright character, Gareth Morgan, to be one of her most intriguing and attractive heroes! ;) Enjoy!