Cover Image: Heart of a Dragon

Heart of a Dragon

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I really enjoyed reading this book, it was a great start to a series. The world was really interesting and I enjoyed going through this novel

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4 Stars!

It had been a long time since I had read a book by David Niall Wison. Too long, in fact. When I saw Heart of a Dragon, I decided it was time to dive back into the mind of a compelling storytelling that had remained on my shelf for far too long.

Donovan DeChance knew the occult. He had a collection of occult works in his library that could rival any collection on Earth. He was always on the lookout for the supernatural as it tried to make its way into the world. He saw one such insurgence coming when The Dragons, a local motorcycle gang, and Los Escorpiones, a local street gang, began to butt heads, he sees something much more sinister at work. This was not just a turf war. A woman had begun to dabble with powers she should have left alone and now the supernatural had found a portal to the world and wanted to unleash hell on Earth.

DeChance knows the portals between worlds is beginning to open but he is not sure what he can do to stop it. That’s when he learns about a young artist, Salvatore, who has magic in his inspiration but lacks the tools to set it free. The Dragons enlist Salvatore’s help when they learn of his dreams of dragons that seem tied to members of the gang. Given the tools of his art, Salvatore may have the strength to protect the world, but he needs someone to guide him. DeChance recognizes his chance to save the city and maybe the world and puts together a ragtag group consisting of Salvatore, Dechance’s lover as well as his cat, and a magician of questionable motives named Ramirez to attempt to keep the portals from opening. It may seem like certain death to DeChance, but it is the only chance the world has.

I was not sure what to expect when I started the novel but I knew that Wilson was a strong storyteller so I had high hopes. I can say that I was not disappointed. The characters are what really spoke to me in this novel as they seemed to come alive and jump off the pages. I could almost feel as if I was a part of the story rather than watching it unfold. I was cheering for or against the different factions in the novel and felt an attachment to the characters that is hard to develop. Even though this is a work of fantasy, it still felt very real throughout. There is not an abundance of action in the novel but there was enough to keep me glued to the pages and that along with the strong sense of place and breathing characters kept the story frest from the first page to the last.

Heart of a Dragon is a very strong work of urban fantasy. The story just seemed to soar off the page and was especially strong when the artwork of Salvatore was at its center. I felt the strongest connection to this character and this facet of the story: the struggling artist who was mistreated by the world because no one realized his true power. Now he is given the chance to soar, to maybe save the world, and it is apparent that he is a hidden treasure. It is a story that appeals to the hidden hero in all of us and makes the reader believe in the power of the heart and soul. Wilson seems to be doing more than telling a simple story. He seems to be reaching into the soul of the reader and assuring that the reader has the heart of a dragon. This is a story that is dark and disturbing at times but which has a very real heart that beats at its core and that heart is what makes it a powerful and compelling read.

I would like to thank NetGalley and Mystique Press for this review copy. Heart of a Dragon is available now.

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Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with this e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.

This was such an entertaining read! My favorite part was the magic system and the world. Although I would’ve like more details on the world-building and definitely less info-dumps. However, the characters were precious and enjoyable to read from. I did notice that the author couldn’t dare put them in danger for it to be too high of stakes, and so I found myself not really immersed in the sequences that followed knowing that they will turn out just fine.

Solid read, would recommend!

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THE DECHANCE CHRONICLES follow the adventures of Donovan Dechance, a gentleman wizard who is the most powerful wizard in the West Coast city of San Valencez. He's more or less the opposite of Harry Dresden, being a cultured gentleman scholar that is more like Doctor Strange or Titus Crow than a rough and tumble street mage. Which is ironic because the first plot is about the man attempting to stop a gang war from destroying two feuding gangs.

The Dragons and Los Escorpiones have long feuded over the Latin district of San Valencez but have previously fought with chains as well as fists versus guns. This changes as they actually move to magic instead of pistols. A bokor, Anya Cabrera, has begun summoning spirits into the bodies of Los Escorpiones in order to turn them into inhumanly fast superhuman killing machines. The gang isn't entirely happy about this but this is their opportunity to finally defeat their rivals for good.

Donovan doesn't have much stake in this game but is brought in by the local hedge wizard, Martinez, to help resolve the issue before it becomes apocalyptic. Martinez has a backup plan, though, and that is to use the power of a young painter to summon the strength of dragons to aid their namesake gang. In a way, Martinez and his student Salvatore are the real protagonists of the book as it is their "brothers" who run the risk of being killed.

I really enjoyed this book despite, or perhaps because, of the low stakes. This is a war being fought between criminals but their lives are something that Donovan values and doesn't want to see ended any more than "innocent" civilians. I also appreciated Donovan's equal relationship with the local sorceress Amethyst who he partners with and doesn't need to define his romance with. There's no love triangle or 'will they or won't they', they're together and comfortable with a bit of space between them.

The magic in this world is overt and spectacular but not really "throwing fireballs and lightning." Instead, it's more like curses, teleportating rooms, and invoking the power of spirits as well as dreams. I don't think the book gets the terminology right for its Voodoo character very well but it is mitigated somewhat by Donovan being incorrect that Anya Cabrera is a priestess invoking the loa (its significantly more complicated).

In conclusion, I was very entertained by this book and will be picking up further books in the Dechance Chronicles. The books could have had higher emotional stakes for Dovonan, who remains aloof from the story but this is compensated by Martinez's role as the secondary protagonist. I wonder what Tradition Dovonan would have been if this book had been in the World of Darkness.

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