Dealing with Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede: A

From the back cover:
Take one bored princess. Make her the seventh daughter in a very proper royal family. Have her run away.

Add one powerful, fascinating, dangerous dragon.

Princess Cimorene has never met anyone (or anything) like the dragon Kazul. But then, she’s never met a witch, a jinn, a death-dealing talking bird, or a stone prince either.

Princess Cimorene ran away to find some excitement.

She’s found plenty.

I’ve read a lot of YA Fantasy featuring unconventional or improper princess heroines, and at first Cimorene seemed like just another one of them, but ended up distinguishing herself from the others. Alianora is also amusing. The unabridged audio I listened to had different voices for the different characters, and hers was especially good. This also enabled them to do a neat trick – they could overlap lines of dialogue to portray times when people speak simultaneously or interrupt. It was nifty!

The plot of the book is clever, and more especially than that – well explained. I loved that characters were always explaining to others exactly what happened, and that the plot didn’t hinge on misunderstandings or people deciding to stay quiet for no discernible reason. That’s what you do when you have a big problem – give all the facts to everyone to mull over! The end result was that almost all behavior in the book was not only believable, it was logical. There weren’t any moments where I wanted to smack anyone.

I also really liked the portrayal of the dragons in the book, especially their interesting take on gender roles. There was some great voice acting work for the dragons, too, especially in the scene where Kazul has guests for dinner, so if you ever listen to it, remember that I said the voice of the “thin dragon” rocked. This reminds me that if I were pressed to voice a complaint, it’d be that the stone prince doesn’t get named. Hopefully he’ll appear in later books and it will be revealed.

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