'Dréoteth', a Danielle Bourdon book, is a striking blend of familiar lore, obscure legend. Her blending of those elements and her imagination has brought an entirely new creature to me, out of shadows I had not seen. And she doesn't play with mere conflicts of good and evil to do it. We instantly learn, from her characters own lips; this is about predator and prey.
Humans have been prey to so many literary ghouls; it would seem a daunting task to weave a different thread into our nightmares. Danielle does it, without effort, by twisting the legends we have heard about dragons, and adding new facts to the lore. She tells us how they were made, and how they make themselves. I was left speechless at her imagination. When Saint George slew his dragon, we thought he slew a mindless beast. We, and he, have only been half right.
This isn't a sudden creation by this author; she has nurtured this character. He's watched from her shadows for many years. Danielle writes beautifully, bringing him to life for us. She can take you instantly where she wants you to be. Yet, it's hardly anywhere safe at all. Not in this world, not next to Dréoteth. He is her creation, but she simply unleashed him and he seems to do only as he pleases. Ruin...destruction; those would please him. There is no moral in the story, there is only need - and choice. That latter characteristic is his key to haunting us.
There is no timeframe to place this tale; pick a favorite century. That lends to the distractions and the beauty. This could be anytime, anywhere, as a clever author, Danielle has removed the hints that might guide us. It also seems there is little one can do to make a dragon romantic, however romanticized they have been in earlier fiction. Danielle is able to do it, without placing a single thought of love within him, and he is still as genteel as he is deadly. Ms. Bourdon balances those opposites with tremendous grace, and Dréoteth surprises me in every way possible.