The Bone Dragon
Release Date: 2nd May 2013
Publisher: Faber and Faber
Source: From Publisher.
Synopsis: Evie's shattered ribs have been a secret for the last four years. Now she has found the strength to tell her adoptive parents, and the physical traces of her past are fixed - the only remaining signs a scar on her side and a fragment of bone taken home from the hospital, which her uncle Ben helps her to carve into a dragon as a sign of her strength.
Soon this ivory talisman begins to come to life at night, offering wisdom and encouragement in roaming dreams of smoke and moonlight that come to feel ever more real.
As Evie grows stronger there remains one problem her new parents can't fix for her: a revenge that must be taken. And it seems that the Dragon is the one to take it.
This subtly unsettling novel is told from the viewpoint of a fourteen-year-old girl damaged by a past she can't talk about, in a hypnotic narrative that, while giving increasing insight, also becomes increasingly unreliable.
A blend of psychological thriller and fairytale, The Bone Dragon explores the fragile boundaries between real life and fantasy, and the darkest corners of the human mind.
Review: The Bone Dragon is such a powerful debut novel. I’ve wanted to read this novel for a while, the synopsis intrigued me straight away and then the cover fully hooked me, after all it’s gorgeous. To be honest I’m not really sure what I was expecting when I picked up this novel. I wasn’t expecting such a raw and powerful story with such a strong main character. Alexia Casale has shown that she is a talented writer who can pack such an emotional punch in her prose. The Bone Dragon left me wanting more, I couldn’t believe when it ended, I wanted the novel to continue so I could learn so much more about Evie. It’s an emotional ride that’s mixed with mystic and magic, set against the vivid backdrop of the fens.
The novel begins when Evie wakes up in hospital after her operation. The only thing left over from the terrible past is a piece of rib bone that she carves into a dragon with her Uncle Ben. Evie is in a lot of pain after the operation and one night she wishes on this dragon. She soon begins to have dragon dreams where the dragon comes alive and helps Evie gain back her strength. It’s there to protect her and the dragon has a plan. In her dragon dreams, it takes her out into the fens to explore as he plots the steps of this plan, but he doesn’t let Evie know the ultimate goal. Evie’s life has been tough and things finally begin to look up, except there is one thing that will never go away and it’s that she’s most scared of.
Poor Evie has been through a hell of a lot. She is a damaged child and that of course has affected her mind and well being. She’s very cautious about things and will never tell anyone the truth about her injuries, except her adoptive parents. She’s fragile but she has the life of a normal teenager. She still goes to school and has best friends who have girly days out together. She has some very caring protective parents and an awesome uncle. These people have welcomed her into their home and for once she feels like she belongs and can trust them with the harsh truth of her past. I loved the way Casale has dealt with such a troubled character and made her so interesting and engaging to the reader. She has many past problems and it was interesting to see how it was dealt with in the novel and seeing small snippets of her past coming back to her. Evie cannot remember everything from her past as it was so disturbing and even now she wishes she could forget. Despite this there is some strength to the character, she is determined to go on and fit in with her new family. The Dragon seems to symbolise the inner strength that Evie has even if it is buried deep inside under all the hurt and pain. It is and will always be there if you dig hard enough. In a way it shows hope too, hope that in the future things will get better. I am still surprised at the sheer depth to the character and how real she felt. It really feels like I know Evie after reading this book. She is an unforgettable character and one that will stay with me for a while yet.
Weaving into Evie’s story is that of her adoptive parents and their dead son. I also found it really interesting learning about their loss and how Evie has helped them not to combat it, but to accept it. She isn’t a replacement; she’s another addition to the family. I liked the contrast between the two different types of pain and loss, with Evie’s past and Amy and Paul’s loss. Alexia has shown that there is a variety of pain in the world and neither will be the same. There’s this underlining hope that together they can heal, it’s touching and very emotional to watch.
The Bone Dragon is… There are so many ways I can start this sentence but none of them seem to fully fit the emotion and power this novel has hidden in its pages. You have some incredible characters that are all so realistic, each with their own little flaw. I particularly liked how Evie could tell by certain things that her adoptive parents were lying. It’s these small details that add to the depth of the storytelling and make it even better. If you’re looking for a promising new writer, then Alexia Casale is the one you want. The Bone Dragon has the correct mix of mystery, pain, adventure, happiness and of course an enchanted dragon. It’s a book that, not only will you enjoy, but it will also stay with you for a long while. So there you have it, I don’t even want to say goodbye but this review is already long. The Bone Dragon is simply a book that you should all read.