Title: Named of the Dragon
Author: Susanna Kearsley
Published: 1999, Berkley
Category: General Fiction
I've been having trouble getting into books lately! Boo. You can see I haven't been doing many reviews. I think it has to do with still being in the process of adjusting to all the newness of a new town and new job. I try to read but then feel too antsy to really settle down and get into it. Well, last Sunday I finally had a completely free day, so I curled up on the couch with Named of the Dragon, expecting the same trouble. But no! I spent the whole day completely sucked in and didn't do much of anything else (except eat, I always remember to eat) until I'd finished it. Yay! Thank God. I was worried my reading zen had gone.
Lyn Ravenshaw is a London literary agent who gets invited to spend Christmas with one of her authors in a little town in Wales. Lyn decides that this might be a good distraction, as her own life has been a bit bleak lately; she is recently divorced and, even more importantly, is still being tortured by nightmares following the death of her baby. In Wales, she meets a young woman named Elen, a young widow with a small child, who is convinced that her son is in horrible danger. She is seemingly off her rocker (she thinks a dragon is after him), but Lyn slowly comes to agree that there is something wrong. But where is the danger coming from? Dashing novelist James, the surly playwright Gareth, one of the other villagers -- or is it all in her imagination, a vestige of her guilt over not being able to save her own child?
I think what sucked me in so completely was the incredible mood that was set -- all of Kearsley's novels have a gothic flavor to them, which is done so well. The action itself is not really very fast or dramatic, but each scene builds the suspense slowly, adding to the mystery and setting you up to wonder. The climax was a little underwhelming, but I didn't even mind because I had such fun getting there. The setting too is wonderful; I've always wanted to visit Wales, and now I want to even more.
The other thing I loved were the very smart characters. All authors and agents, full of clever patter, but never snobby about it. And the romance is very subtle, but--the last scene! Ahhh. Lovely.