Carrie Vaughn is well known for her urban fantasy series about werewolf Kitty Norville. Because of her success with that series, she’s been able to branch out and try new things. She’s published several YA genre novels, including After the Golden Age, with superheroes, and Steel, time-travel with pirates. The one that caught my eye is Voices of Dragons.
The setup is that nuclear bombings at the end of WW II brought dragons out of hiding. War ensued, and ended in a peace treaty which granted dragons sovereign territory in the Russian arctic and the US/Canadian Rocky Mountains. There’s been virtually no contact since.
Kay, the heroine of this book, is the teenaged daughter of the woman who administers the treaty and the sheriff who enforces it. Naturally, she’s the one who breaches the border with Dragon and makes friends with an equally rebellious teenaged dragon named Artegal.
Unfortunately for these new besties, the US military has secretly developed some anti-dragon weapons, and they’re itching for an excuse to try them out. The secret of their friendship becomes harder and harder to maintain when Air Force jets keep “accidentally” crossing the border.
I liked this setting very well, with the dragons having their own territory and culture. I would have liked to see much more of that. Artegal was maybe a little too inscrutable. The human baddie was also a problem for me. There wasn’t a compelling reason for him to trash 60 years of diplomacy, just so he could play with his new toys.
Unfortunately, I also had trouble relating to Kay. In the first chapter, she’s off doing dangerous extreme sports, but in the second chapter, she’s all jittery about whether she likes a guy. These are both a little bit stereo-typical, and not what I remember my teen years being like. I guess I was looking for her to be more consistent.
I did appreciate the message about not having sex too soon. It’s a nice slap-back at the rampant, irresponsible sex in so much urban fantasy. But messages are not what we read books for. We read to fall in wonder with a brave new world. Despite the good ideas in Voices of Dragons, I just didn’t like it as much as I wanted to.
The ending makes it clear there should be a sequel, but I haven’t seen advance notice on bookselling web sites.
Because it’s clean, and not terribly angsty, I’d recommend it for kids 10 to 14, or adults who can live without the sex scenes.