Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Aaron/Bach, LLC on August 5, 2016
My thanks to the author for providing me with a digital review copy. No compensation was provided for this review, and all opinions are my own.
Spoiler-y SynopsisWhen Julius overthrew his mother and took control of his clan, he thought he was doing right by everyone. But sharing power isn’t part of any proper dragon’s vocabulary, and with one seat still open on the new ruling Council, all of Heartstriker is ready to do whatever it takes to get their claws on it, including killing the Nice Dragon who got them into this mess in the first place.
To keep his clan together and his skin intact, Julius is going to have to find a way to make his bloodthirsty siblings play fair. But there’s more going on in Heartstriker Mountain than politics. Every family has its secrets, but the skeletons in Bethesda’s closet are dragon sized, and with Algonquin’s war looming over them all, breaking his clan wide open might just be the only hope Julius has of saving it.
Once again, Rachel Aaron has knocked it out of the park with her character development, world building, and the overarching series plot arc. This series just keeps getting better and better! After the events of ONE GOOD DRAGON DESERVES ANOTHER, the Heartstriker dragon clan is in turmoil. Centuries-old beings like dragons aren’t exactly fond of change, but Julius Heartstriker, nice dragon extraordinaire, is hell-bent on changing the dynamics of Heartstriker…hopefully for the better.
But one dragon alone can’t pull it off, so Julius co-opts his siblings into helping him. I love the banter and snarky dialogue between the Heartstrikers, and found myself chuckling along as Julius tries to navigate his way through the mire that is dragon politics. The bizarre yet cunning seer Bob, mercurial clan enforcer Chelsie, and Justin, the macho dragon with a heart of gold, all join Julius in his quest for reform and his attempts to destabilize Bethesda Heartstriker’s power. Talk about some serious mommy issues! Seeing them all work together was so gratifying after their previous scuffles, and proved to be one of my favourite elements of NO GOOD DRAGON GOES UNPUNISHED.
This instalment also introduces some new dragons, including the previously unseen F clutch (a little of dragons, all of whom have names beginning with the letter “f”). Aaron does a great job explaining why we’ve never met – or even really heard about – these dragons before now, and the explanation both expands the Heartstriker universe and made me hate Bethesda more than ever before. That’s a truly impressive feat, since I love to hate her! Bethesda is one of my all-time favourite villains, because while she’s loathsome, her motives actually do make a lot of sense – so long as you discount compassion and ethics, of course. If you’ve read the series then I’m sure you know what I mean!
The shake up in power within Heartstriker combined with a certain hostile presence in the DFZ means that NO GOOD DRAGON GOES UNPUNISHED necessitated a change of setting from the previous two books in the series. We finally get more than a brief glimpse inside Heartstriker Mountain, the clan HQ located in the Arizona desert. I absolutely adored this change of scenery because it gave insight into the complexity of dragon politics and the alliances and feuds of the almost 200 Hearstriker siblings. We also got to see inside Chelsie’s suite of rooms, which revealed a ton of really interesting information about her backstory. Chelsie has suffered so much but she’s so strong! You guys, I love her. Girl has secrets, and I can’t wait until Julius puts two and two together and realizes exactly what went down in China…because when that inevitably gets out, it’s going to be explosive.
While all this dragon drama is going down, everyone’s favourite mage Marci is dealing with her own problems. Her bond with the spirit cat Ghost is growing stronger, providing a source of comfort and increased power while also starting to scare her. And the events of NO GOOD DRAGON GOES UNPUNISHED make it pretty clear that while Ghost does love Marci, she should definitely be scared. As a crazy powerful mage who associates with dragons, it’s not a surprise when Marci comes to the attention of big-shot mages who essentially want to co-opt her power. Very draconic behaviour, ironically! I absolutely adored seeing Marci stand up to these people, especially since it meant that she had to forego the opportunity to rub elbows with her magical idol. She’s really come into her own throughout the series, just like Julius has. I can’t wait to see where her story arc goes from here!
If you’re not reading this series, you should correct that immediately. There’s truly something for everyone in the Heartstriker series, particularly if you want to read about atypical protagonists and fascinating world building!