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Book Review: The Moss Dragon of Brittlekeep

Table of Contents

“When Penny stumbles across a dragon’s tooth beneath the city cemetery she unwittingly becomes a target of the Brittlekeep’s master and his dark magic.

Worse, Lord Masamor seems to know about her Fire-Hands – a magic he wants to possess.

With only her talking locket (the mysterious Bear) to rely upon, Penny tries to flee the city but when she encounters a group of rebels, she realises that Masamor is not the only one seeking her…

Faced with flight into the unknown or capture by those who will stop at nothing to harness her power, Penny must walk a perilous path to freedom.”

Title: The Moss Dragon of Brittlekeep

Series: Standalone

Author: Ashley Capes

Page Count: 161

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 4.0/5.0

Date Read: May 30th, 2023

Continuing with my personal SPFBO-9 TBR is The Moss Dragon of Brittlekeep. I will continue with my usual honesty in the opening paragraph and state I had never heard of this book or this offer until the competition entries were released. It sounded interesting and is rather short so I added it to my list.
 
Having such a short story certainly made it easier to squeeze it into my active reads. However, I ultimately found myself simply wanting more of this world and these characters! This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I’m just not sure how well it might measure up to some of the more epic type of stories that are entered into the competition. As I’ve said several times before though, whether an author’s entry wins the competition, I just hope at the very least they find some new readers. I briefly searched to find out if there was any plans to continue this story but I wasn’t able to find anything. So currently it looks like a standalone novel. I’ll add a small spoiler area at the end on some things that I’m left wondering about at the end of this one.
 
Pacing was very smooth within The Moss Dragon of Brittlekeep. As mentioned this was a short story (under 200 pages) and it flowed by very quickly even considering that. Through a lot of this book, I felt this would be a great entry novel to get a reader into fantasy. I didn’t find any difficult terms or names to trip up my reading. Nor did I find myself really feeling like I was stuck in a lull.
 
The world building was great considering what was there. I just felt there were several things mentioned that were never really elaborated on which goes back to wishing there was a planned follow up on this where we had the chance to fill in these gaps. Again, what Ashley has here though was very intriguing and entertaining for me.
 
The character development was probably the strongest area in my opinion. Even though I still have some questions, I loved many of our characters and some of the twists revealed along the way for them. We have some characters we think are friends then quickly begin to question that impression. Then for awhile we find ourselves wondering who we can actually trust. I definitely enjoyed many of the characters here.
 
Overall this was an enjoyable read for sure! I’m certainly glad I found it via the competition. I noticed Ashley Capes has several other works out there, so I hope to check out some more of them in the future.
 
I’d recommend this one to someone who is looking for a short almost fairytale read with some twists and turns along the way. You’d also need to be ok with having some of those loose ends kind of left dangling in the wind for now as well.
 
*****  SPOILERS BELOW *****
 
So the first of the two items that immediately come to my mind that I’m most curious about is regarding the Shapeshifters. In this world are all shapeshifters only human and dragon? Or did we just happen to learn about Penny who fits into this mold but other shapeshifters are human and other creatures?
 
The second was why was Bear transformed into the locket? I know it was explained to keep him safe, but safe from who/what? And again why the locket rather than something else?
 
There is certainly a ton of potential to explore other parts of the world that we didn’t get to see in this one and many characters we cross paths with for a chunk of the story or only a brief glimpse that can be expanded on in the future. I certainly feel this could easily be a longer book or a series of shorter books like this one.

World Building 4/5
Pacing 4/5
Character Development 4.5/5

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Chad Barnard

Owner/Operator of The Hiking Reader Blog. Sharing thoughts on books and hiking trails and trying to find ways to continue to incorporate both hobbies together.

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