November 19th, 2021 by Jane Turner
This review of Miss Percy’s Pocket Guide to the Care and Feeding of British Dragons by Quenby Olson comes courtesy of a Blog Tour organised by Storytellers On Tour. Published by World Tree Publishing on 26 October 2021, Miss Percy’s Pocket Guide to the Care and Feeding of British Dragons is only available on Kindle. I received a free copy of the ebook.
Miss Mildred Percy inherits a dragon.
Ah, but we’ve already got ahead of ourselves…
Miss Mildred Percy is a spinster. She does not dance, she has long stopped dreaming, and she certainly does not have adventures. That is, until her great uncle has the audacity to leave her an inheritance, one that includes a dragon’s egg.
The egg – as eggs are wont to do – decides to hatch, and Miss Mildred Percy is suddenly thrust out of the role of “spinster and general wallflower” and into the unprecedented position of “spinster and keeper of dragons.” But England has not seen a dragon since… well, ever. And now Mildred must contend with raising a dragon (that should not exist), kindling a romance (with a humble vicar), and embarking on an adventure she never thought could be hers for the taking.
I absolutely loved this!
Miss Mildred Percy is a spinster. Though the term is now fairly outdated, back in regency England you’d have been far more stigmatised. And Mildred has been. After spending her youth caring for an ill father, on his death she finds herself cast out of the house (women couldn’t inherit property back then) and taken in by her sister, Diana, ostensibly to help with the children while a governess can be found. Seventeen years later, Mildred’s in her 40’s and still caring for the children. Life, it seems, has passed her by.
And she was one for adventures – always preferring to be muddy than perfectly turned out, Mildred’s childhood was full of imagining and questing, while Diana was searching for a wealthy and not-altogether-ugly man to marry. Mildred’s life now is routine and put upon; she lives at the whim of her sister, doesn’t receive any social invitations, and is basically a recluse in her small attic room, alone with her books and her imaginings.
Until Great Uncle Forthright’s inheritance arrives…
Miss Percy’s Pocket Guide to the Care and Feeding of British Dragons was a joy to read. Amazing prose (completely of the period), completely relatable characters, wit and humour, and a story you just want to keep on with!
The writing is excellent – Ms Olson sure can turn a phrase. I’m very much reminded of one of my favourite books, Good Omens. For example:
There are plenty of ‘asides’, too – background information mainly – put in brackets (and sometimes parentheses upon brackets (like this [or this] on occasion) which do become trying at times). Sometimes they work, sometimes (I think) they could really be cut.
In fact, that’s my only complaint; number of parenthetical sections. Although fun to read, they really do detract from the action. With my editor’s eye, I think many of these would work better as footnotes (like Gaiman & Pratchett did in Good Omens), for the reader to stop and read without interrupting the flow. As footnotes they wouldn’t detract from the action, you could read them when you wished and still have all the nuances they convey. Ah, well. Perhaps in a later edition. ::smile::
All in all, an absolute joy to journey through Mildred’s great adventure; which is also a journey through empowerment and self-confidence. I very much hope to see more of Mildred. You should too.
And I’m left wanting a Great Uncle Forthright to leave me an inheritance.
Quenby Olson lives in Central Pennsylvania where she spends most of her time writing, glaring at baskets of unfolded laundry, and telling her kids to stop climbing things. She lives with her husband and five children, who do nothing to dampen her love of classical ballet, geeky crochet, and staying up late to watch old episodes of Doctor Who.
But don’t just take my word for it – check out the brilliant reviews on the other stops on the Blog Tour! And get in Contact if you’d like me to review for you. All my reviews are posted to Twitter, Amazon and Goodreads at a minimum.