Book one of the Leland Dragon series, Jackie Gamber’s Redheart imagines an intriguing world of humans and dragons, medieval in feel yet almost modern in the character of changing climate and shadows of fear. Dragons and humans have lived side by side for centuries, but superstition overwhelms memory and common sense all too easily gives way to greed as resources become scarce.
The young dragon Kallon Redheart lives apart from his community, rejecting any obligations due to history and struggling to find meaning in life. Meanwhile the human girl, Riza, is fleeing her own community and obligations, rejecting a safe planned future (and marriage) in favor of her dreams. While villagers hire dragon-slayers and dragons plot genocide, chatty Riza and morose Kallon slowly fall into an unlikely friendship that promises danger and hope.
The dialog is delightful in this young adult novel and carries the scenes and emotions very effectively. The point of view of dragon protagonist is nicely conveyed, giving a pleasing feel for changes in size, background and perception. And the story behind Kallon’s sorrow is revealed with good timing as Riza falls into greater danger. Riza’s stubborn independence matches Kallon’s delightfully and they make intriguing protagonists.
Themes of friendship, honor, duty, love and independence are nicely blended into the novel. Many questions are answered by the final page, giving a pleasing feel of completeness to the tale. But many more questions are raised leaving readers ready and waiting for a sequel.
Redheart is a pleasing fantasy with intriguing medieval setting, fun characters, good dialog, happy coincidences and fast-flowing story for readers from middle-grade up.
Disclosure: I received a copy of this novel from Seventh Star Press in exchange for an honest review.