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  • Writer's pictureThe Bossy Bookworm

Review of To Shape a Dragon's Breath (Nampeshiweisit #1) by Moniquill Blackgoose

Blackgoose offers a fascinating, layered story about a strong-willed, whip-smart young Indigenous woman in a steampunk 1800s Nordic setting, with plenty of dragons, dragon science, and dragon bonding alongside activism and bravery.

Moniquill Blackgoose's To Shape a Dragon's Breath delivers the dragons: in-depth training around being partnered with dragons, dragon-related science, emotional and physical ties to dragons, and the cultural importance, historical significance, and potential power of being linked to dragons,

It's also a steampunk, mid-1800s Nordic setting for some radical rethinking of nonsensical, destructive rules and regulations.

To Shape a Dragon's Breath begins on a remote island, Masquapaug, where dragons are local legends--but the Indigenous Masquisit people haven't seen them in generations.

Then fifteen-year-old Anequs finds a dragon egg, and when it hatches, she befriends and bonds with the hatchling, Kasaqua. The community's hopes soar for a return to days of cooperation with and good luck received from dragons. Her people celebrate her as a Nampeshiweisit, a respected person who builds a revered relationship with a dragon.

But the Anglish conquerers of Masquapaug insist that a dragon must be raised a certain way, and they register the dragon's birth send Anequs and the dragon to a school for special training. If they fail to demonstrate that Anequs can control and shape Kasaqua's behavior, the dragon will be killed.

The Anglish colonizers expect Anequs to either adhere to their strict customs and expectations--all of which are a mystery to her--or to behave like Theod, the other "Nackie" they've had in their midst. But Theod was orphaned, removed from his extended family, and raised as a servant.

And everyone's about to find out how disruptive a whip-smart, open-minded, and strong-willed young woman can be. Because the restrictive Anglish world--and its selective history of the destruction of the Indigenous people--is due for some changes. And Anequs is just the fearless catalyst who might be able to shift it all.

Moniquill Blackgoose offers a wonderfully layered first installment in her series (I can't wait to read the rest of the books as they're published), taking on issues of Indigenous people and colonization, wealth and privilege, gender power imbalances, nontraditional sexual and relationship conventions, the bucking of societal traditions, and more.

And my thirst for boarding school/magical school settings was quenched by the feminist-activist Anequs's dragon academy experience.

I absolutely loved this.

Do you have any Bossy thoughts about this book?

I cannot wait to read the next installments in this series.

I love books about dragons (check out some of my favorites). One of my criticisms of the currently popular romantic fantasy Fourth Wing is that I wanted more more MORE dragons.


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