I've talked about my rocky relationship with Urban Fantasy in the past. It's often formulaic & it usually doesn't satisfy my craving for a Fantasy adventure because of its tendency to focus on sexual encounters.
However, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed Nice Dragons Finish Last.
The Heartstrikers are a large clan of dragons known for their ferocity & power. Headed up by their matriarch, Bethesda, they exude the type of unyielding superiority to be expected from any respectable family of dragons.
And then there's Julius...
Born without the personality or temperament of a "good" dragon, Julius is undoubtedly the black sheep of the Heartstriker clan. As punishment for his lack of initiative, his mother seals him into his human form & drops him in the middle of the Detroit Free Zone, where dragons are destroyed on sight if discovered.
The book sets up a situation that manages to be both serious & playful at the same time. It reminded me a lot of the experience I had reading The Rook. The magic & lore are relevant to the outcome of the story, but do not overwhelm the charm of the characters.
Speaking of, my favorite aspect of the novel is, by far, the characters. Julius' interactions with every member of his family are hilarious & authentic in the way they are written. I was delighted every time someone new came into the story & totally engaged with how they involved themselves in the plot.
Julius in particular really appealed to me as a character. He's a lover of video games & fantasy movies with a heartfelt sense of justice & he is exactly the type of person I could see myself hanging out with in real life.
The story is sprinkled through with so many references, my heart was singing. I could really feel Rachel Aaron's love for nerd culture.
My only issues with this installment were:
1. Some phrases were repeated more often than necessary & it interrupted the flow of my reading.
2. I did not love the romantic development, but it is in no way overwhelming. Most people would probably agree that it's not relevant enough to mention, but after being exposed to so many shitty insta-love triangles & "but daddy, I love him" plot devices, I'm a little no nonsense when it comes to romance in my novels.
As the book came to a close, it laid out some hints about the forthcoming plot that really piqued my interest. I can't wait to start the next one!