Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Book Review: Dragonfly by Julia Golding

Dragonfly by Julia Golding
Release Date: October 20, 2009
Publisher: Marshall Cavendish 

Pages: 390
Received: Library
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars 
Goodreads Page


From Goodreads:

Princess Taoshira of the Blue Crescent Islands is appalled when she is ordered to marry Prince Ramil of Gerfal. And he's not too pleased, either. She is used to a life of discipline, ritual, and splendor. He is used to hunting and carousing. They hate each other on sight. But both of their countries are under threat from a fearsome warlord, and the only chance of peace is to form an alliance.

When Tashi and Ram are kidnapped, they fear there's no escape--from their kidnappers or from each other. Can they put aside their differences long enough to survive ambush, unarmed combat, brainwashing, and imprisonment? And will the people they meet on their adventure--including a circus strongman, a daring rebel leader, a sinister master of spies, and the best female fighter they have ever seen--help them or betray them to the enemy?


Dragonfly held so much promise: A hate-turned-love romance, fantasy, questing, culture clash, battles. Oh gosh, the blurb sounded like a recipe for success, but unfortunately the actual story fell flat for me.

I’m a character girl

I need to love my characters, especially in a book like this. The hate-turned-love romantic device relies completely on the strength of the characters. They need to be interesting as individuals and there needs to be a spark between them. For me, neither of those factors was met with Tashi and Ramil.

Tashi was nice, but part of her personality was that she was very closed off and removed. This makes sense for her culture, and it was fascinating, but it also served to close her off to me. I felt like I was never able to get around her walls and know her on a deeper level. The glimpses I did see were likable. She began the book as a very timid girl, but she grew considerably through the book becoming a woman I would have loved if only she would let me.

Ramil pretty much killed the book for me. He irritated me so much with his bravado, impulsiveness, and stubborn inability to see beyond his own perspective. He’s supposed to be at least somewhat off-putting in the beginning, but I don’t think I was supposed to dislike him as much as I did. His growth was less apparent than Tashi’s, making him seem even more childish in comparison. Since I disliked Ramil so much, I had a hard time getting on board with their romance and I didn’t really feel that happy spark when they got together.

For fantasy lovers

The world Julia Golding described was both familiar and creative. The competing cultures were detailed and extremely interesting to learn about. Ramil’s culture is a lot more standard, but Tashi’s was unique. I loved learning all about the various customs and aspects of her culture. It was also interesting to see the clash of cultures. Julia Golding superbly highlighted the truly alien feelings that occur when two distinctly different cultures meet.

The plot itself was pretty standard fare for the high fantasy genre. The whole thing was very predictable and offered nothing new to the fantasy genre. I wouldn’t say this is necessarily a complaint though. I don’t mind predictable plots like this because it’s a storyline I enjoy reading. If the characters had captured my heart, I probably would have made this a five star book regardless of the predictable plot.

One thing I didn’t like about the plot was that I found it a plodding in places. Again, if I had loved the characters I probably wouldn’t have minded, but as it was I frequently found myself bored. The action parts were good, but even they needed that little boost that is usually filled in by the charisma of the characters.

Should you read it?

That’s really up to you. If the plot sounds interesting to you, then I think you should give it a try for sure. If you click with the characters then you’ll probably love Dragonfly. I’m glad I read this book and if I find it for cheap then I would buy a copy. I’m just disappointed I didn’t love the book as much as I was expecting.

FYI: Authors Julia Golding and Eve Edwards are apparently the same person! So if you like Eve Edwards' historical fiction books, then you might want to give Dragonfly a try.

 Explanation of rating system: Star Rating Key 

Do you have any questions about Dragonfly that I haven't addressed? 
Feel free to ask in the comments!

Looking for another book like this? 
You might like: 

Click on the covers to go to my reviews

This was reviewed as part of The All Male Review Challenge


  1. It does sound like a great premise. Imagine the possibilities that could be utilized with this concept of forced marriage and then kidnapping. Great review.

  2. I had never heard of this but I'm enjoying Golding's Cat Royal series so I might want to try this just to see how she writes fantasy in comparison to historical.

  3. It sounds interesting, but if the characters are flat/stagnant and the novel offers nothing new, maybe it's not a book to spend a lot of time on. *glances at her pile* I love the cover, though!

  4. The summary sounds enticing, plus I like the title. Somehow though, I think I might find the male hero irritating too, plus I'm not a huge fan of romance novels as stand alones. This one does have fantasy elements and action, though so it could be redeeming. I think I'm going to wait on this one though, because I have too many others I'm way too excited about to read.

    Hey, on a side note, congrats on the challenge you are really stepping it up a notch. :-)

  5. I read the summary and thought, Smalls is going to love the hate-turned-love part I bet. And then I kept reading your review. So sad! It definitely sounded promising from the summary, so what a disappointment. I'll probably give it a miss.

  6. Yeah, if the guy is off-putting it pretty much kills the romance. Sorry to hear it didn't live up to your expectations!

  7. LoL, yeah. I didn't like this as much as I should have. The predictability of the plot really bummed me out,

  8. Too bad! It looks so beautiful and tempting. Maybe someday I'll check it out at the library.
    She sounds promising as a writer if she can deliver on the alienation one feels from culture clash. It might be worth it for that!
    Good review Small!


  9. Lena, The premise is awesome! It’s not a bad book by any means, it’s just for me I didn’t click with the characters. Definitely a great premise though.

    Bookworm1858, Oh? I’ve been wondering about her Cat Royal series. Good to know you’re liking them!

    A Backwards Story, The characters didn’t do it for me, but that doesn’t mean you won’t like them! The culture was new, but the plot was pretty familiar. I’d give it a try if it sounds good to you though. You should know early on if you like the characters or if they’re not worth the time for you. The cover is fantastic. In person you almost can’t see the girl’s face though.

    Gina, I like the title too. The romance is a significant part of the story, but there is enough plot that the romance isn’t all there is to it by any means. Actually, there’s a lot more plot than a lot of YA paranormal romances lately. Thanks on the challenge! I was trying to see what I had read lately that would qualify. :P

    Logan, I know, right?? It had so much potential to be awesome! I still liked it a lot though. It’s stuck with me (I read this one a year ago) and I’d probably read it again, so it wasn’t a complete wash. I just wish I had clicked with the characters more.

    Danya, It really does. I think it might be a little easier if it's the girl I don't like as much. At least then I can still like the guy :)

    Need-tea, The plot was very unimaginative. I probably wouldn't have even cared if the characters had been better but, meh, nope.

    Heather, Library is the way I'd go. If you like the characters then you'll probably like the book. She did do a very good job, I thought, with the culture clash. That really sticks out in my mind. At least Tashi's culture.

  10. It sucks when you can't click with the characters. I am not a huge fantasy fan so I will probably skip this. Great review though Smalls :)

  11. Hmmm, it sounded really good from the premise, but then I read your review, and thought, "oh." Even thought the characters weren't up to par, it sounds like the way in which the two different cultures were done sounded fascinating. That would be something that I would love to read about. I'm not sure if I would read this one now, but maybe another time. Thanks for your honest review!

  12. Hmm. That's true. Someday I might. Someday way down the line. Flat characters and lack of development tend to turn me off, too, though, so I have a feeling I might be with you on this one?

  13. The premise sounds interesting and I like fantasies but the way you described Ramil makes me think I'm not going to like the romance. I'll skip this one for now.

  14. aww, I'm sorry it was a bit of a let down. I too need to love the characters, particularly for books where there is questing involved -I think you need to be invested or you can't sit through a quest.

    The premise sounded good!

  15. Cool cover! Bummer it fell flat!! I love how you break up your reviews, Your honesty on books is so refreshing! I like to read why people like books and why they don't like others, instead of someone liking everything or just posting just books they like. thanks for another great review!

  16. Nic, Thanks! I think you’d really have to be a fantasy fan to like this book. Probably a good call for you on the skip.

    T. B., Oh yes, the cultural parts really were fascinating. I’m glad I read the book just for that. If the premise sounds good and you like the idea of exploring the culture then you should give it a shot! Maybe get a copy through the library? I think if you liked the characters then you’d like the book.

    A Backwards Story, You might be with me. It wasn’t so much that the characters were flat as it was that I just didn’t like Ramil. I liked Tashi, but she was very reserved (which goes along with her personality.) Have you read Mistwood by Leah Cypess? You know how Isobel was very distant but that’s because her character needed to be like that for the story? That’s kind of like Tashi…only for a totally different reason.

    A Canadian Girl, Haha, I may be being a little hard on Ramil. He just bugged me. I so wanted to love him but then eh, no. So I was bitter and disappointed :)

    Alex, Oh yes, I agree. You must be involved with the characters on a quest otherwise, who cares what happens to them? Though I do love questing.

    Julie, I love the cover! It took me about halfway through reading the book to notice the girl though. She’s much more subtle in person (and with the library plastic cover). I’m so glad you like my reviews! I love getting feedback like this, so thank you very much :) I like seeing reviews for books people like and books they don’t like too.

  17. I liked MISTWOOD a lot, though something bugged me...forget what. I'm anticipating Nightspell!

  18. Hmm, here via your recap post. I have missed so much this week and am trying to catch up a little.

    I totally love the cover and the title of this book, but somehow I just don't fancy it to read. I might get it just to sit looking pretty on my bookshelf. Would that be totally sad?

  19. You're right, the synopsis does sound like recipe for a successful hate-turned-love romantic fantasy. It's too bad about the characters though. Great review! =)

  20. Ok, I will probably give this book a shot anyway. I hope that I get into the characters, or I will probably end up feeling the same way you did.

  21. A Backwards Story, I can’t wait for Nightspell! I heard Clarisse is back and up to her old tricks :D

    The Slowest Bookworm, This seems to have been a very busy week for all of us. I need to play catch up myself. Haha, no, I’ve wanted to buy Halo just because of the cover and I have really no interest in reading the book. Maybe get a nice high-quality printing of the cover to hang on your wall instead? :P

    Dazzling Mage, Yes, it was very disappointing about the characters. But you might like them! The premise was so promising.

    Cialina, I would give it a try, especially if you can get it through the library. If you get into the characters then you’ll probably like it.

  22. NIGHTSPELL is already in stock at my B&N!!


It's all about friendly conversation here at Small Review :) I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Be sure to check back again because I do make every effort to reply to your comments here.

Because I am absolutely terrible about following through with blog awards, I can't in good conscience accept any more. Thank you very much for thinking of me though!

Spam WILL be deleted. Attacks on myself or other comments WILL be deleted.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...