A Natural History of Dragons
A Memoir by Lady Trent
Imagine a world somewhat similar to ours at the end of our own 19th century. Imagine a girl, born into a wealthy family in a country closely resembling Victorian England, interested in dissecting (not killing, mind you! This is not a splatter novel.) small animals to learn something about their physiology. A girl who relishes in reading natural history books snatched from her father’s library by one of her brothers instead of doing things her parents would consider more appropriate for a young lady. After one of her scientific endeavours results in serious injuries not only to herself, she ends up being confined to more proper pastimes like drawing and horse riding for two years – skills she is going to put to good use in her later career.
Similarities with our own past end, however, where dragons are concerned. As might be obvious from the novel’s title, dragons do exist in this world. And dragons are the one thing in nature the novel’s heroine is most interested in.
Written as the memoirs of “an old woman”, as the memoirist herself declares, this novel explores the heroine’s path from a very bright, but somewhat subdued daughter of a country gentleman towards the first steps of a career making her one of the most celebrated natural historians of her time, or indeed, all times.
This novel has it all. Adventures in a faraway land, smugglers, corrupt politicians, superstitious country folk, scientific discoveries, a demon from the past, and, of course, many dragons.
Marie Brennan’s skill and style are exceptional, and I hope that there are many volumes of Lady Trent’s memoirs yet to come. There be dragons!