Book Review: A Dragon Used to Live Here

A Dragon Used to Live Here by Annette LeBlanc Cate

A Dragon Used to Live Here
by Annette LeBlanc Cate

5 out of 5 stars

Thomas and Emily are the children of a knight and lady. They live in a castle, take archery lessons, and learn courtly manners and knightly conduct. They meet Meg, a scribe, who used to know their mother when she was a child. Meg tells them stories about the dragon who used to live in the castle and how their mother became involved in a terrifying adventure. But is Meg telling the truth? Or is she just weaving a tall tale?

I love the story-inside-a-story structure of this book! As Meg gradually tells the children the story of the dragon, Thomas and Emily are pondering how to reconcile Meg with her old friend, their mother. There are adventures and exciting plot twists in both stories, and everything from the past affects the present. As we are introduced to characters in Meg’s story of the past, we learn more about them in the present with Thomas and Emily. The whole story structure is brilliant!

The writing is so witty and hilarious! Every page is full of snappy dialogue and little jokes. But there are also some heart-felt moments and some serious scenes.

The little details in the setting make the world-building special and draw you into the story. It’s sort of a mixture of modern and fairy tale elements. There are dragons and pixies and trolls and elves. The humans live in a castle with a moat and a drawbridge, but they also play tennis and go to college. It’s such a charming magical setting!

I loved the funny connection between Meg and the children. She’s kind of grumpy, but they feed her snacks and she agrees to tell them a story. Meg is such an interesting and mysterious character. You never quite know what weird thing she will do next! I really enjoyed getting to know all the various characters. They are all sort of awkward and wild, and it’s such a madcap group of knights and scribes and artists.

The illustrations are so cute! I love the art style and the character designs. Every two or three pages there is an illustration that bring the story to life, and somehow makes the story even more funny! I especially liked the details in the border along some of the illustrations. I figured out that the artwork that shows something happening in Meg’s story of the past has a border of leaves or fruit or some kind of flower, and illustrations showing the “present” don’t have a border. What a cool detail! I loved that each chapter starts with an “illuminated” letter. It gives it that old-timey feeling!

I enjoyed this book so much! It’s exactly the type of comical fantasy that I wanted.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a free and honest review. All the opinions stated here are my own true thoughts, and are not influenced by anyone.

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