Julius Heartstiker is having a hard day. His mom kicked him out with nothing but the clothes on his back, and has threatened to eat him if he doesn’t mend his ways. By mend, she means stop being so darn nice. Why is being nice a problem, and what kind of mother threatens to eat her child? Well, the answer to both of those questions is DRAGON, because that’s what Julius and his mother and his dozens upon dozens of siblings are: dragons! However, Julius’s draconic form has been sealed, leaving him helplessly human in the only city in the world where dragons are illegal. Understandably, chaos ensues.
Urban fantasy is one of my favorite genres for when I’m stressed or tired or just need an escape. The genre doesn’t tend to be as literary as a lot of the fantasy and other fiction I choose to read, which is absolutely why I enjoy it. It gives me a compelling story with interesting characters, but in a way where I can just sink into the story without having to think too deeply. Urban fantasy and romance and middle grade books are what I read for fun, and to give my mind a break.
That being said, I still expect a certain quality of writing in my urban fantasy, and this first installment in the Heartstrikers series left something to be desired. The writing felt, novice, if that makes sense. Aaron did a lot of telling instead of showing, and because of that I never engaged as deeply with the characters as I would have liked. One of the things about urban fantasy that I used to dislike but now appreciate is the use of first person narrative. It’s not my favorite perspective to read; however, it imbues the main character with more, well, character. I feel more like I get to know the protagonist, and some writing choices that I would generally view as lazy become more like character quirks in my eyes, actually making the protagonist sound more realistic. I think Julius, our main character in this series, would have benefitted from this treatment. However, I’ve heard that Aaron’s writing improves as the series progresses, which I look forward to experiencing.
While I didn’t fully click with the characters, I did enjoy them. Especially Bob. Bob is quite possibly the most eccentric character I’ve come across in urban fantasy, and that’s saying a lot. I can’t wait to learn more about him!
I didn’t immediately fall in love with this series, but I am intrigued. Dragons aren’t very predominant in the UF genre, and the whole premise is interesting. I have multiple friends who adore this series, so I can’t wait to see where it leads!