Voices of Dragons, by Carrie Vaughn

Voices of Dragons, by Carrie Vaughn (HarperCollins, 2010, YA, 309 pages), is a rather unusual fantasy, in that it combines contemporary YA-ness--the heroine's best girl friend who is putting the pressure on her to grow up, the developing relationship with the cute boy-- with Dragons. And the result is a rather fun, rather interesting, and more than somewhat memorable story.

The dragons had reappeared in the world just after WW II, setting fire to a couple of towns up in Alaska. War raged between dragons and humans, until at last a truce was established. A large chunk of Canada, some of northern Asia, and a bit of the American Rockies was carved out to be Dragon Territory, and no human was allowed past the border. Kay lives right up against the frontier, and has taken the law seriously all her life; after all, her mom works in border enforcement, and her dad's the sheriff. And Kay didn't mean to cross the line, that day she went rock climbing on the edge of dragon territory...

But when Kay falls into a deep, fast-flowing stream, she is rescued by a dragon. The first she has ever really seen, and the first dragon anyone has talked to for decades. Artegal is young and curious, just like Kay, and they agree to keep meeting secretly, to learn about each other. And they become friends.

There are those in the military, however, who are uncomfortable with potentially dangerous enemies controlling a large swath of former US territory. While Kay and Artegal are peacefully exploring dragon/human history, war is being planned. US planes, designed to mimic the superior maneuverability of dragon flying, have invaded dragon airspace. And the dragons are retaliating, setting Kay's town alight. Kay and Aregal realize that their friendship might be the only way to bring peace back...if they are willing to follow the clues in an ancient book of dragon lore and risk being seen as traitors to their own people.

And as this all is building up, Kay's worried about what to wear to the school dance, her best (boy) friend, Jon, is become more than a friend, and Kay's anxious and uncertain about that (although happy, too), and her best (girl) friend, Tam, is pushing her to go further and faster....

The alternate history is intriguing, with enough detail given about how things ended up this way to be satisfying, while allowing for unexplored mysteries to remain (it's a bit odd, for instance, that all human/dragon communication was cut off so aburptly). This is the first of a series, and although it ends at a good point (in a "the first chapter is over" type way), it also is clear that Kay and Artegal are about to plunge into a new adventure. Will Kay and Jon ever get a chance to actually go as far as Tam thinks they should??? Is peace possible??? And just who are these dragons, anyway???

Voices of Dragons might well appeal to steampunk fans, with its playful alternate history; it has definite appeal for dragon fans; and, in addition, has enough sort of chick-lit YA to it to (perhaps) reach even those who like their YA romances sans fantasy. It doesn't have tremendous depth of character, nor did it evoke tremendously strong feelings for me, but it was a fast, entertaining, read.

(note on age-appropriateness: it's very YA in the (minor) subplot about having sex (or not), but although there's chatter, nothing actually happens).

Here are some other reviews, at Fantasy Magazine, Steph Su Reads, and Book Crazy. And the first chapter's up at Carrie Vaughn's website, if you want to check it out for yourself....


  1. I hadn't heard of this one. Thanks. I'll add it to my list.

  2. Looks interesting! Thanks for the review!

  3. I just put this on hold at the library and can't wait until I get to check it out! Thanks for the review =^_^=!

  4. I loved the dragon/alternate history part of this book, but I wasn't overly fond of Kay's 'friend' Tam. I don't normally condone violence, but I think I'd slap anyone who pushed me that much to have sex . . .


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