The last while I have taken advantage of the opportunity to review the work of other YA fantasy writers offered through YA Bound. This gives me a chance to keep up with the genre I write novels in, and I always learn when I attend to the writing in other people’s work. This is the latest review I did.
Dragon-fire destroys a town sending its people into poverty and shifting a young girl’s destiny. Hoping for a chance to change their family fortunes, the girl’s father chops off her hair, dresses her as a boy, and renames her ‘Cody.’ Then, he trains her to fight and begins a regimen to strengthen her body. His plan: she will kill a dragon and earn the reward.
In A Wild and Unremarkable thing, Jen Castleberry builds a world where everyday life is punctuated by the appearance of dragons once in fifteen years. Called “firescales” in her world, she gives them a careful, intricate life. Crafting a culture around these creatures, Castleberry sets a path for Cody both dangerous and potentially life-changing. The girl in a boy’s role takes on the quest with hope and with courage. Cody shifts her destiny and the fortune of her family, though in the end things do not go quite as planned.
After a slow and rambling prologue, Castleberry’s plot runs fast, carrying the reader. The characters are well crafted, and we root for Cody. The texture of the towns and the road is complex and intriguing, with mysteries around the corner in many places.
A few of the twists in the plot do not quite follow, and some of Castleberry’s metaphors distract from the story. But Cody’s determination carries the story, even though her destiny is not quite what she, or I as a reader, hoped for. I give the story four stars.