Author: Paul Cude
Edition: Received from the author
Rating: 3.75 Stars
I received a copy of Bentwhistle the Dragon in a Threat from the Past from the author in exchange for an honest review.
This was an incredibly hard book to rate, and I'm not sure exactly why. I struggled over picking a star rating, which is why it ended up with a fraction of a fraction. It wasn't quite a four star read, but it also wasn't a three star. I decided on 3.75 over 3.5 because I enjoyed it more than I did with several 3.5's I've read. But, yeah, it's somewhere in that area.
A Threat from the Past is about Peter Bentwhistle, a regular dragon who happily works in the human world everyday, has good friends, and loves his sport- Hockey. Then, everything changes when his boss starts acting strange, and a villainous character named Manson seems to be behind it. The problem? No one believes Peter when he says something's wrong, not even his best friends. So Peter must, with the help of an old, and somewhat strange, dragon named Gee Tee, help his boss and discover what Manson really wants.
The beginning of the novel sets everything up really well with a retelling of the classic St. George and the Dragon. It cements the most important parts of the world building: that dragons have lived among humans for a long time and protect and aid them in their ventures. Also, that some dragons hate humans, and seek to ruin them, which explains many bad things that have happened in human history. Throughout the novel Cude does a great job at growing the dragon world and explaining interesting tidbits about their culture.
Characters, too, were well done. I knew who each person was quickly, since they were easily defined, and I connected, at least in some way, with each of them. I don't mean to make it sound like they were two-dimensional, though, because each was fully fleshed out. Besides characters and world-building, I generally liked the plot, though this is where I had problems.
First of all, I thought going into this that it was an epic fantasy. It's actually an urban fantasy- another genre I love- which didn't bother me so much as surprise me and catch me off guard. My expectations had to change quickly. It was a bit of a rock, though nothing that really affected my pleasure of it once I got used to the change. However, about midway through the plot seemed to stop all together, spending a bunch of time on sports. I don't have a problem with sports in general, but it felt more like a sub-plot when it was taking the spot of the main plot. It dragged the story for me, though it wasn't completely uninteresting.
Overall, it was this plot slowing down that took it's toll. The novel did wrap up nicely, and I liked the last scenes, they were very full circle, and it left room for the next book in the series. I plan to pick that one up shortly. On a side note, as I read I found some similarities to Harry Potter, in strange ways I've never connected similarities before. It wasn't really a problem, but it made me laugh a little at these strange occurrences.