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Michelle Pressma
The Whisper of Dragons

Adult; Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Horror; (Market)

Kavi, the protagonist, is the heir to a dragon guardian, unbeknownst to her clan, a 21st century nomadic magic using group whose magic allows them bend reality by manipulating the Story of everything, the material that binds all matter.

Picard (The Eden Court Saga) returns with a fantasy that prioritizes story above all else—literally. Set on a contemporary Earth rocked by increased earthquakes and natural disasters. Kavi, a “Story whisperer” of the secretive, matrilineal Rawiya clan, is heir to a dragon guardian, Amthorn, who tells her that these tectonic shifts are due to the Void. The Void—quite literally defined as “the absence of Story”—leads to the weakening connections between humans, which in turn, is leading to the destruction of the Earth itself, as “The Stories are the connections between all matter of the Universe.” Kavi’s friend Stacia has been kidnapped by a man who wants to combine her magic with artificial intelligence, and Kavi, her childhood love Gideon, and others go on a quest to save Stacia—and save our world from the void.

This gets complicated when Kavi faces not just danger but betrayal. Picard proves adept at creating complex characters with interesting relationships. Kavi in particular is a compelling protagonist, and her relationship with Gideon–her childhood love who was exiled from the clan– is both sweet and rich, as is her dynamic with Guardian Amthorn, whom she clearly cares for but who is set against humanity.

Picard writes effective, imaginative prose, though this fantasy’s worldbuilding isn’t always clear, such as how exactly the Rawiya clan lives hidden away from “twenty-first century iPhone and YouTube lives” when they ride dragons and exercise mind-control on ordinary humans. The magical system, combining AI, dragons, and the Void, could be presented with greater clarity. Using her Crita, Kavi can create new Stories, which can control the way people and things act. “There are rules. Your power has limits,” Amthorn says to her late in the story, but those limits remain mysterious. Still, the characters and the idea that humanity has lost the Stories that connect us to the Earth and each other make for a compelling, enjoyable low fantasy.

Takeaway: This contemporary fantasy pits a secret dragon-riding clan against the Void that has separated humanity from stories, the Earth, and each other.

Great for fans of: V.E. Schwab’s A Darker Shade of Magic, Cassandra Clare’s City of Bones.

Production grades
Cover: A
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A-
Marketing copy: A