Dragonfly by Julia Golding (October 20th 2009—Marshall Cavendish [originally published in May 1st 2008 UK])
Grade: 3.5 stars out of 5
Summary: “Princess Taoshira of the Blue Crescent Islands is appalled when she is ordered to marry Prince Ramil of Gerfal. And he’s not too pleased either. She is used to a life of discipline, ritual, and splendor. He is used to hunting and carousing. They hate each other on sight. But both of their countries are under threat from a fearsome warlord, and the only chance of peace is to form an alliance.
When Tashi and Ramil are kidnapped, they fear there’s no escape—from their kidnappers or from each other. Can they put aside their differences long enough to survive ambush, unarmed combat, brainwashing, and imprisonment? And will the people they meet on their adventure—including a circus strongman, a daring rebel leader, a sinister master of pies, and the best female fighter they have ever seen—help them or betray them to the enemy?”
Review: By the time I had reached midway through the book my reaction can be summed up as disappointment. This is partially my fault for believing that Tashi would be a kick-ass sword wielding princess as depicted by the UK cover. Instead I was met with a Japanesesque priestess whose faith in the Goddess and a sling was her weapon of choice. It took me several chapters for me to finally be resigned with this fact.
Some call Dragonfly similar to that of The Princess Bride. I myself have never read the book so I will neither agree nor disagree with this comparison. I did, however, find some similarities to that of Asian cultures. Tashi is described to be wearing a white face powder with kohl marked around her eye (like a Geisha). There are many mentions of origami—as a token of affection and giving of their love—with brightly colored robes. A combination of western life and eastern tradition. As for a subcharacter—the strong giant—I saw a bit of George from Of Mice and Men in him. He has his own understanding of justice, a willingness to please, and the habit of petting [Tashi’s] hair.
There is a lingering sluggishness throughout the book as well as excessively dialogues at times—though infrequent if the reader does not believe that political bickering and enemy gloating counts as such. The action finally picks up near the end of the book as the main climax of a revolt and through several skirmishes.
The reader will fall in love with many of the character as I have done—the giant, the female warrior, the intelligent professor—and will steady become comfortable of the faults of others—Tashi, Ramil—and begin to appreciate their growth throughout the book. I still find it unprecedented that Tashi managed to escape death countless times by sheer luck.
Overall: If the reader understands what he or she is going into then I have no doubt that he or she may enjoy the book far more than I did. Dragonfly is a crafted book with action, adventure, hope, and frenemies.
I must say, I absolutely love this cover. After reading the book I do feel that a paper dragonfly would be a better representation. Though on the other hand if it had been so we would not have had the lustrous effect by the gold that attracted me so in the first place. I like the theme of gold of the cover—the dragonfly, the author’s last name, and the eye makeup of the girl in the background.