by Chandra Ryan, fantasy (2010)
Samhain Publishing, $3.50, ISBN 978-1-60504-990-8

In Chandra Ryan's Dragonborne, we have people with names like Naryn, Reuel, and Lilith, but our heroine's name is Sophie. Hmm, I guess it could have been worse: her name could have been Mary Sue or Bella Swan. And then we also have Andy and Maria. What is this, Ms Ryan? A Pixar cartoon of some Earthlings who found themselves trapped in a fantasy world?

Sister Sophie, sweet and selfless cleric in a village in some fantasy setting, is crying profusely because the children are dying of some mysterious plague. Of course, because Sophie is that kind of heroine, the melodrama is more about her than the kids. Why can't she save those kids? Why does she always fail in her tasks? Why isn't she special? Also, her supposedly unconventional ways drive others to perceive her as an outcast of sorts. We can't have a special heroine sparkle like a misunderstood star in the nebula without having her being bullied and hated on by people less special than she, after all.

Before she gets to launch into her very own special theme song, she spies our hero Reuel in his dragon form plummeting from the sky due to some injury. Instead of alerting the authorities, our heroine instinctively grabs her herbs. Given that she just recently whined about being a failure as a healer, I wonder whether it's wise to subject a wounded dragon to her ministration, but don't mind me, I'm just the reader here.

Injured, Reuel nonetheless can tell that Sophie has a "melodious voice" (the better to sing Disney-style anthems, of course) and "the scent of jasmine". As our Flowers That Sing heroine gives Reuel some TLC, they will soon face the threat on Sophie's life as well as the lives of the kids together. That is, "together" as in our hero having to do everything because Sophie is just all talk.

Too emotional to point of crippling her common sense, unnecessarily brusque and sarcastic here and then, and generally as useful as an ingrown toe nail, Sophie is too much like the product of a thirteen-year old girl's fantasy of the perfect princess-type heroine that she wants to be. The writing can be some unintentionally funny, as when the author describes Reuel's wound as a "poisoned hole". The world building is vague - the whole thing with its mix of modern day and fantasy names has me wondering whether the whole story is a young girl's take on Mother Teresa rescuing the downtrodden in India, only this time Mother Teresa is a hot babe who falls for a sparkling dragon guy.

Something tells me I'm probably tad older and more cynical than the typical reader who may find this story enjoyable.

Rating: 52

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