To Shape A Dragon’s Breath

To Shape a Dragon's Breath

by Moniquill Blackgoose
Series: Nampeshiweisit #1
Genres: Fiction / Fantasy / Dragons & Mythical Creatures, Fiction / Indigenous
Published on May 9, 2023
Pages: 528
Format: eBook Source: Library

The remote island of Masquapaug has not seen a dragon in many generations—until fifteen-year-old Anequs finds a dragon’s egg and bonds with its hatchling. Her people are delighted, for all remember the tales of the days when dragons lived among them and danced away the storms of autumn, enabling the people to thrive. To them, Anequs is revered as Nampeshiweisit—a person in a unique relationship with a dragon.

Unfortunately for Anequs, the Anglish conquerors of her land have different opinions. They have a very specific idea of how a dragon should be raised, and who should be doing the raising—and Anequs does not meet any of their requirements. Only with great reluctance do they allow Anequs to enroll in a proper Anglish dragon school on the mainland. If she cannot succeed there, her dragon will be killed.

For a girl with no formal schooling, a non-Anglish upbringing, and a very different understanding of the history of her land, challenges abound—both socially and academically. But Anequs is smart, determined, and resolved to learn what she needs to help her dragon, even if it means teaching herself. The one thing she refuses to do, however, is become the meek Anglish miss that everyone expects.

Anequs and her dragon may be coming of age, but they’re also coming to power, and that brings an important realization: the world needs changing—and they might just be the ones to do it.

I had requested this book from the library but I didn’t remember what it was about. Every time it showed up on my ipad I sent it back and asked for it to be delivered later. Then I saw it start to show up on Best Of lists. The next time it appeared in my library app, I decided to give it a try.

This book definitely lives up to the hype.

It reminded me a lot of Babel. A girl is taken into a school that is run by a colonial power. She is trying to hold on to her identity and culture while learning what the other people have to teach her.

“And the Anglish have the nerve to call my people savage and wild and all that nonsense, when they can’t think of any better way to solve a fight than to kill one another over it?”

She isn’t the only indigenous person in her school. There is a boy who was raised in white society after the death of his parents. He has been shunned by the other students for being indigenous but isn’t willing to find out more about his background because of his own internalized racism.

This book covers the first year of her schooling. I love how determined she is to be fully herself in the face of the disapproval of the rich people in her school.

“There wasn’t any corn, which seemed practically blasphemous for any kind of celebration in October, but the Anglish could be very strange.”

I also liked the fact that this book upends a common YA fantasy trope. There is a bit of a love triangle. In this case though, Anequs decides to handle this by intending to marry them both. She hasn’t told her love interests that yet though.

I’m looking forward to reading the next installment.