The Dragons Of Heaven by Alyc Helms (book review)

September 30, 2015 | By | Reply More

Missy Masters is a super-hero, the old-fashioned saving the world with mystical powers kind of vigilante hero. It’s a job she inherited, much to her surprise, from her grandfather, the original Mr. Mystic, along with the ability to manipulate shadows and enter the shadow realm. As she travels to China to learn how to control her powers and truly live up to the legend her grandfather represented, Missy is drawn into the feud between the immortal Dragons. Lung Huang is a Dragon who was exiled for helping Missy’s grandfather and, as he starts to train her as well, the other Dragons are displeased. Missy may be able to win them over if she passes their tests without embarrassment or social disgrace but Lung Di, Lung Huang’s brother, has plans far beyond humiliating Missy. In fact, it seems like he’d rather like to take over the world and I bet you can guess who is going to have to stop him…

DragonsofHeaven

‘Dragons Of Heaven’ by Alyc Helms is an urban fantasy that neatly blends elements of Chinese mythology with all-American super-heroes of days gone by. I love dragons, super-heroes and urban fantasy so, bringing them together is a winning combination for me, and I feel like the balance between the different elements was really well managed.

For a lot of the book, we follow two different time strands, a ‘past’ and a ‘present’. I have to be honest and say at times I found this really confusing. They were set in similar locations, with the same characters and there just wasn’t enough difference between them for me to be able to mentally switch between them. However, having said that, I also found it really interesting because the ‘past’ strand occasionally changed my entire view of the present day Missy and I had to rethink all the assumptions I’d made. The plot also gradually joins the two strands together so that by the end it all comes together neatly, so I can forgive the confusion earlier on in the book.

Missy is a great character and I enjoyed following her as she learned how to handle her super-hero powers. It’s reassuring to follow a character through so many mistakes and see how she picks herself up to face the next problem. I think it makes her very relatable because we meet her when she’s still got so much to learn. There are a pretty decent cast of supporting characters to help her on her way too. Lung Huang (aka Jian Huo is a Dragon and naming isn’t straightforward) is at first enigmatic and gradually opens up more and more as he and Missy get to know each other. The cheeky fox spirit, Si Wei, provides a nice dose of humour to lighten up proceedings and Lung Di, when we meet him, gives us the dark and sinister note that is needed to round it all off. Even the more minor characters, like the ever-enthusiastic Jill from Missy’s coach tour party are well-built and help to draw us into this world.

‘The Dragons Of Heaven’ was great fun to read. I enjoyed the style, which carried me along on great adventures in China and the USA and really sucked me in to Helm’s urban fantasy world. With the enigmatic Dragons, the cast of miscellaneous spirits and humans and a compelling central character in Missy, I think there’s great potential for future stories set within this world, and I’m delighted to see that another book is on the cards for 2016. It’s definitely one that will be on my ‘to read’ list!

Vinca Russell

September 2015

(pub: Angry Robot. 336 page paperback. Price: £ 8.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-0-85766-432-7)

check out website: www.angryrobotbooks.com

Category: Books, Fantasy

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