Two years ago, a wormhole opened and ushered vicious dragons into the world. The dragons burned Earth’s cities to the ground and sent its inhabitants scattering for cover—and since then, Ayanna Grace, a seventeen-year-old Black girl, has been scratching out a life in an abandoned subway system, part of an extensive underground community.
Underground, medicine runs short and outbreaks of disease spread uncontrollably. The water supply is low, uprisings occur frequently, and dragon attacks are imminent. But those aren’t the only challenges Ayanna is facing: she’s also busy wrestling with her feelings, torn between Richard, who she’s known all her life, and Jackson, a mysterious newcomer. Worse, her mentor, the community’s only doctor, is dying from a failing heart. With no hope of rescue from aboveground, will Ayanna be able to save him before it’s too late?
Ayanna stands out as a multi-faceted and inspirational protagonist willing to place the needs of her community above her own as restitution for the mistake that her father made. Ayanna’s strong, selfless mindset is dealt with elegantly as her motivations—to help her community because of a sense of duty—are made just as clear as her reasons for hesitancy—her desire to avoid guilt if things go poorly. Ayanna’s powerful personality is the perfect vessel to explore the carefully crafted world created by Henson. Both the subway system community and the dragon-ridden surface are well developed settings and serve an important purpose in the overall story arc.
Despite feeling rushed at times, this story as a whole is very well thought out and engaging, and the dragons, so often overused in fantasy, here are truly scary and exciting, scarring the land and the flesh of people Ayanna meets. Whether following Ayanna as she navigates the trials and tribulations of living in an underground society with a questionable government or her exciting confrontations with beasts on the surface, Love in the Age of Dragons keeps the reader invested throughout. This fast-paced dystopian fantasy is intensely captivating until the very last page.
Takeaway: This story of life in the wake of a dragon invasion is perfect for fans of dystopian survival tales.
Great for fans of: Neal Shusterman, Amie Kaufman’s and Jay Kristoff’s Illuminae.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A
Reviewed by Paula García Lasa for Readers' Favorite
Love in the Age of Dragons by Fatima R. Henson follows one of the survivors of a destroyed world, Ayanna Grace. She is a citizen of an underground community with a strict system of rules to survive. Supplies are scarce, and people are barely hanging on. At just seventeen years old, she already carries the world on her shoulders. She is an apprentice to the community's only doctor, and everyone assumes she'll be his successor. However, she doesn't feel ready yet. The doctor's untreated heart condition limits his life expectancy, and she might have to take his place sooner than she would like. She will attempt to get the medicine he needs through the chaos of infections, drought, and protests. If that weren't enough, she finds her heart divided: Richard, the honorable boy she has known all her life, and Jackson, the charismatic boy she has just met.
Imagine if dragons reached our world through a wormhole. Cities burned to ashes, broken families, and people running for cover. That is the world Fatima R. Henson depicts in her novel. Love in the Age of Dragons combines a dystopian world with touches of fantasy. The author describes an extraordinary world through a thrilling and addictive narrative. The characters embedded in this dynamic tale are complex and very well written. Ayanna is a strong and brave yet believable main character that sets a healthy role model for anyone who might pick up this book. The people that surround her are as three-dimensional as she is. Henson pays attention to details. The result is a fast-paced but not rushed story, perfect for dystopia/fantasy lovers.
Reviewed by Stephanie Chapman for Readers’ Favorite
Political corruption, betrayal, and danger fill the world created in Fatima R. Henson’s Love in the Age of Dragons: A Novel. Ayanna’s deceased father had invented a device that created a wormhole, allowing dragons to enter the world. In the underground basement community of Terra, Ayanna works as a medical assistant. They are running out of the medicine Terra needs and she knows the medicinal plants are on the surface. Deciding to risk the trip, Ayanna is soon pursued by a dragon. While trying to escape the beast, she is rescued by Jackson. He stirs something inside her but refuses to go to Terra with her. Returning alone, Richard, the head of security, takes her to the council. Instead of punishment, the council vows to keep secret something that could cost the lives of everyone in Terra.
Fatima R. Henson crafted this dystopian-style story with an edge of fantasy, making this an original view of what technology could open. I felt empathy for Ayanna. The people of Terra demonized her father for the dragons wreaking havoc on Earth, which made some believe that she was also responsible. Her crush on Richard tears at her because of his loyalty to the council. I thought the inner turmoil she has about her medical skills felt well balanced because most of what she learned was through her diligence in reading books. I cannot imagine having the weight of the lives of over one hundred people on my shoulders. The stress alone would be unbelievable. The story is unpredictable, and the conclusion gave me hope for a sequel. I would like to think that Jackson may appear. Readers who like to read post-apocalyptic stories filled with unknown dangers with fantasy creatures included will like Love in the Age of Dragons.
Reviewed by Sadiyah Bhamjee for Readers’ Favorite
After a dragon infestation wipes out her city, Ayanna and a small group of survivors must fight against dwindling supplies, dissent, and the ever-increasing chance of a dragon attack. Love in the Age of Dragons follows a teenager, Ayanna, as she navigates her way of life in her new home, Terra. Working under Dr. Keaton as a medic, Ayanna will do anything it takes to protect the people of Terra; whether that means breaking the rules and leaving the safety of Terra or giving up her own water. But while her head tries to save lives, her heart falls in love, creating more mayhem in an already chaotic existence. Fatima R. Henson creates a story that is great for anyone who loves dystopia, fantasy, and suspense.
Besides the wonderful story, the book is beautiful to look at with fantastic cover art and decorative details. Love in the Age of Dragons perfectly blends together young love, suspense, danger and magic to create a story that I loved. I absolutely loved seeing people of color, like me, in Henson’s book! It is an amazing experience to relate to a character, not just in personality, but in looks too. Ayanna is a real teenager, even though she must face hard challenges. She is not a teenager written as an adult and it is relatable. I absolutely loved the magic of this story. Fatima R. Henson took me on an adventure that kept me on the edge of my seat. I can’t wait for a sequel!
“Love in the Age of Dragons is an excitingly paced ride through dangerous stakes. Ayanna, selfless and brave, carries a heavy burden tied to her father’s past actions. The twists and turns to her heroic journey through Terra—a final safe haven for humans—and the dangerous dragon infested surface test her determination and trust in both herself and others.”
—Yodassa Williams, author of The Goddess Twins