cover image Dragon Heart

Dragon Heart

Cecelia Holland. Tor, $25.99 (288p) ISBN 978-0-7653-3794-8

Castle Ocean has been the seat of the same royal family for generations, and there are stories that their ancestors came out of the sea. Now they must figure out how to avoid being conquered in this darkly charming tale set in a fantasy realm, the first overtly fantastical novel from historical fiction author Holland (Kings of the North). Tirza, the youngest child, who is mute, is fetched home to Castle Ocean from the convent she’s been kept in; her mother, Queen Marioza, is being forced to marry the brother of the emperor of an encroaching empire and insists that she will not wed until she has all her children with her. But shipwreck and other troubles mean it will be some time until Tirza sees Castle Ocean again, and she is unable to tell anyone about what befell her in the interim—a silence that has huge effects on her family’s quiet war. Holland’s inspired combination of familial domesticity and political plotting changes moods neatly and repeatedly, managing to be cozy, horrific, and mythic by turns. The resolution feels somewhat abbreviated, but this is a minor flaw in an otherwise impressively accomplished novel. (Sept.)