cover image Dragon's Bait

Dragon's Bait

Vivian Vande Velde. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt P, $16.95 (131pp) ISBN 978-0-15-200726-3

Alys, falsely accused of witchcraft, her father dead from the strain of her trial, is condemned to be sacrificed to a dragon. So she is only too eager when Selendrile, a wonderfully ambiguous LeGuinian dragon able to assume a human form unexpectedly offers to help her retaliate. Together they contrive the disgrace of her inquisitor. But matters get complicated, forcing Alys to decide what she really wants after all. Vande Velde's ( User Unfriendly ) gripping adventure probes the issues associated with revenge, and Alys's response at the conclusion leaves ample room for a sequel. Some characters--in particular, an actual witch--are left disappointingly undeveloped, but Alys herself is a worthy heroine, with a capacious gift for irony. A thoughtful mainstream fantasy with a gently feminist slant. Ages 12-up. (Sept.)