The Dragon That Never Was
Author: Timothy S. Currey
Every young woman in the village receives a dragon egg when she comes of age.
Young Kleia watched every single egg hatch with a heart full of longing. Raising a dragon of her own was her destiny. Her reason to live. Nothing else could give her life meaning the way a dragon could.
When she eventually got a dragon egg of her own, she learned that destiny is not always what it seems.
This is no ordinary tale of dragons—the kind with daring adventure, great battles, intrepid heroes, or comforting victories.
This is the tale of The Dragon That Never Was.
Rating: Beautiful prose and story-telling, Sad, Raw, Genuine characters
I received a free review copy of The Dragon That Never Was. This has not affected my review or rating.
This is one of the rare times I’ve picked up a book on its back cover alone! As soon as I saw the back cover, I knew this was a book I wanted to get a look at, and I hoped I wouldn’t regret it. I have not regretted.
It starts with absolutely beautiful story-telling, a bit like old-fashioned fairytales, a literary style I love and don’t see a whole lot in modern novels or novellas. Yet, with a few lush, beautiful words, a great deal of closeness to Kleia is revealed, alongside an understanding of the context of her life and her world.
Here’s a quote that gives a sense of some of that attention to detail and interpersonal relationships on a wide level that really paints a world and a life:
All the other women agreed that she had the best smile in the village. She did not just smile with her lips, but with her whole heart and soul. The joy and wonder in her heart shone brightly with every smile, and the feeling was infectious. Despite her being unreliable when it came to chores, the others were fond of her and loved to have her around.
Such attention is made to every step of Kleia’s life and such detail is given to her loving devotion to the egg she is given. Her personality shines through the word choices and how the story is told, unhindered by the storyteller’s third person. Her childish joy and her innocent delight shine through everything, and it’s really easy to identify with her, her happiness, and her expectation. And that makes the stroke of disaster absolutely crushing. I cried.
Kleia’s denial and grief ring so true, and her feeling of emptiness – and that the egg, the dragon is there, somehow. I won’t go into all the detail, but it has all the feel and intricacy of a real experience, a real life, and real grief. The other characters feel real, too, though some of them were absolutely frustrating, seeming so caught up in their desire to have Kleia be to them what she was before – in their desire not to lose anything – that they don’t seem to be even aware that Kleia is a real person who has lost something. Sure, they care, but it seems like they care in a profoundly selfish way. But it all felt human, right down to the care of Isidora, the blacksmith.
This is a story of grief and healing, and it tells of one experience, of necessity, but it avoids the pitfall of implying that everyone responds the same. I would not say that it provides a complete picture, but it is honest and raw.
And another passage:
In truth, a great deal was happening behind Kleia’s flat eyes. Like a bad wound that will become hard, rough, and red on the surface, true healing begins beneath.
With every stroke of the hammer and twist of the pliers, Kleia was thinking of her destiny. What on the island could possibly fill the hole the emerald egg had left? Some days she would still wake and expect to find its comforting weight pressed against her belly, only to reach down and find it was not there. She no longer wept, just as she no longer laughed. As the days passed, she began to miss sorrow as much as she missed joy. If tears were the price for a smile, she would gladly pay it. She just didn’t know how.
Some questions to consider:
What does it mean to heal from grief/trauma? Is healing always the same thing? How and when should healing be pursued?
How much of Kleia’s grief is due to the loss of a genuine bond she was developing with her egg, and how much of her grief is due to the loss of a destiny she’s been taught is everything and had pinned her life on? If this balance were different, how would it affect Kleia’s grief and the process of grieving?