Tour’s Books Blog

September 28, 2009

Book Review: Gothic Dragon by Marie Treanor

  • Title: Gothic Dragon
  • Author: Marie Treanor
  • Type: Paranormal Romance
  • Genre:  Time travel – Alternate world where magic works
  • Sub-genre: Villain is good guy
  • My Grade:  C- (2.8*)
  • Length: Sold as a Category length book
  • Rating: NC-17
  • Where Available: Everywhere books are sold

With a title like Gothic Dragon I had high expectations for this twisted time travel story.  I started it three times and three times I stopped reading, unable to get into the story.  I wasn’t worried.  It happens time to time.  Finally, I finished it.  After a rather slow and difficult start, it was occasionally an interesting read, but more often, just choppy and vaguely annoying.  The basic premise: a modern researcher, Esther Conway, gets pulled into a book and keeps moving between the modern world and the semi-fictional world of The Prince of Costanzo, a Gothic novel written by Margaret Marsden, a distant relative and the subject of Esther Conway’s proposed novel.  Lady Hay invited her down to see the papers in her husband’s collection pertaining to Margaret’s life and book, but she had never thought to find an actual copy of the The Prince of Costanzo!  Rounding out the cast of characters in real life are Lord Hay, a somewhat secretive book collector, and Kevin, her whining fiancee who would look much better with a boot in the ass.

The book opens with Esther apparently sleeping in the Hay library having a vision of a boy crying who lunges after her as she flees.  Lady Hay wakes her with a question that then serves to fill in the background of Esther’s goals,a book that was supposedly destroyed by Margaret’s infuriated husband after her disappearance.  Lord Hay hadn’t expected Esther, but he eventually approves of allowing her access.  The next day Ester tries to read The Prince of Costanzo and again apparently falls asleep and enters the story itself.

Esther knows the basic storyline in The Prince of Costanzo.  Drago murders his own father and usurps control of Costanzo from the rightful heir, Cosimo.  Drago is an evil sorcerer who enthralls his people into loving him.  Convinced she’s just dreaming, she isn’t worried when a dark haired man at the head of a group of soldiers comes riding into the village she lands in, even though followed by a banner with a dragon on it marking him as Drago.

Before Esther can be captured by Drago, Cosimo and his men spirit her away and take her where those who oppose Drago have set up camp.  There she meets John Fortune and his wife Matilda.  He is supposed the hero of the tale, but Esther is put off.  Something feels wrong here, not at all like the story and when she can, she sneaks out in the middle of the night only to be captured by Drago and carried off to his castle.  Drago insists they’ve met and drags her to a room where he rips off his doublet and partially opens his shirt and suddenly she realizes he’s the little boy she saw crying in her first ‘dream’ – but now he’s a full grown man.  And a very compelling one.

Esther wakes and you get more of the whole Kevin, Lord and Lady Hay story, then in the middles of a cocktail party Lord Hay takes her back to the library and shows her the letters that Margaret’s husband wrote and she see mention of a Russian doctor that supposedly helped her.  The story is just so episodic that it’s hard to keep track as no section is fully fleshed out.  Esther keeps moving between here and now and Costanzo every time she touches the book.  Lady Hay is determined to buy her ring, the one that came to her through inheritance.  One day while she ‘sleeps’, Kevin sells it.  The whole ‘her body is in the library while she’s in Costanzo’ leads to all kinds of metaphysical issues.  In fact, there are just too many credibility issues to buy it.

This story had a lot of potential, but it was so jumpy that Costanzo never quite gelled, nor did the characters.  The other big problem was ‘What exactly was Costanzo?”  Drago and Esther postulate that magic created a world that became real.  Different from the book and very similar to Italy in Medieval times, but one that’s different and where magic works.  There is some interesting metaphysical issues of bodies in one world while becoming part of the other – including having great sex.  Brings a whole new meaning to ‘wet dream’.  The other issue for me was the way Drago suddenly foiled John Fortune and Cosimo with such ease.  The battle between master and student had raged for years and suddenly, “Slam, bam, thank-you ma’am.” there was the solution and it was ended.  hummmmm.  The ending, with Drago meeting her parents, was also far less than satisfactory and possibly the least credible part.

Like most Samhain books, this one was first published as an ebook and was released in print this in May this year.  If you want to give it a shot, but the ebook.  The print book is overpriced and just not a good enough read.


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