Thank you to netgalley and Quercus Books for this ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Having grown up reading the Artemis Fowl books and absolutely loving them, I just had to read Eoin’s first adult fantasy book and it did not disappoint!
Squib Moreau may be swamp-wild, but his intentions are (generally) good: he really wants to be a supportive son to his hard-working momma Elodie. But sometimes life gets in the way – like when Fake Daddy walked out on them leaving a ton of debt, or when crooked Constable Regence Hooke got to thinking pretty Elodie Moreau was just the gal for him…
An apprenticeship with the local moonshine runner, servicing the bayou, looks like the only way to pay off the family debts and maybe get Squib and his momma a place in town, far from Constable Hooke’s unwanted courtship and Fake Daddy’s reputation.
Unfortunately for Squib, Hooke has his own eye on that very same stretch of bayou – and neither of them have taken into account the fire-breathing dragon hiding out in the Louisiana swamp…
For Squib Moreau, Regence Hooke and Vern, aka Lord Highfire of Highfire Eyrie, life is never going to be the same again.
I had no idea what to expect when I started reading this book but I ended up loving it! It will take you on a wild ride! There’s a dragon who is sarcastic and witty. A teenage boy who has gotten himself into a situation that’s way over his head and a corrupt police officer that will do whatever it takes to get what he wants.
It starts off at a slower pace where we are introduced to the characters and get a sense of the type of people, or dragon, they are. Vern is grumpy and has no patience for the humans who keep making his life difficult when he just wants to watch cable and drink his vodka in peace. His quiet life becomes very chaotic when Squib crash lands into it and he has to deal with all that Squib brings with him.
Squib loves his mama and just wants to help her get out of debt, he’s smart but has no focus and no real male role models in his life. He becomes a little desperate when Hooke tries to date his mama and doesn’t take no for an answer so he does everything he can to enable them moving from where they live.
Hooke is other main character in this and we get to see things from his point of view too so we can truly see how driven he is in his greed for wealth and power. We see how truly psychotic he is and how he will kill anyone who gets in his way and one day that happens to be Squib.
There is also a host of other characters we get to see including Waxman who is Vern’s only real friend. I really loved seeing all the different characters interact with each other and how all their separate lives become intertwined. Each character is complex and there is more to them than we first think. They’re all morally grey characters though Hooke is most definitely not a good guy in any way.
I loved Vern, he is struggling with the fact that he is the only dragon left alive. He used to be a Lord and now he spends his days living in a swamp. He suffers from depression and has suicidal thoughts which I think was handled really well.
I actually saw lots of parallels between society today in the story from immigration and a sense of belonging to corruption in law enforcement. It dealt with how being different can make you isolated and lonely. How everyone wants to belong in a society. It was really interesting to see how these were all written into the story.
This book is dark, brutal and violent at times, but also filled with hope and finding where you belong. Obviously I loved how dragons were included as it’s such a unique take and it made it so fresh and interesting! It is a more character driven story but it does get a lot more fast paced in the second half leading to an explosive ending! I really hope we get more in this world because I really want to know what happens to Vern.