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To Shape a Dragon’s Breath by Moniquill Blackgoose

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To Shape a Dragon's Breath

Moniquill Blackgoose
Published: 2023
Age Range: Young Adult - Adult
Genre: Historical Fantasy

Set in an alternate 1840s New England, Anequs, is an indigenous teen from the island of Masquapaug, known in English as Martha’s Vineyard. She and her people are mostly unbothered by the Anglish colonizers. When she discovers she is a Nampeshiweisit, a person who can bond with dragons, she becomes an honored member of her village. However, that is when the colonizers take notice and force her to attend a “proper” dragon academy. If she fails to assimilate, pass her classes, and fall in line with Anglish social norms, her beloved dragon, Kasaqua, will be executed.

This novel is character driven and Anequs is an easy character to root for. Despite the pressure and abuse from some of the colonizing authority figures, she always knows her own worth. The characterizations are nuanced and complex–it’s not a straight up good versus evil story. The worldbuilding is fascinating, as it creates a society of conquerors that incorporates elements from Victorian England with a Norse-based religious system. The author, Monquill Blackgoose, is an enrolled and active member of the Seaconke Wampanoag Tribe, so I appreciated traveling through parts of New England and seeing them through an indigenous lens. I also enjoyed how she incorporates her steampunk inclinations into this unusual world. This is the first in a series and I am looking forward to the rest.