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Andrea K Höst

Australian writer of science fiction and fantasy.

Dragon's Bait

Dragon's Bait - Vivian Vande Velde Alys is framed for witchcraft and sentenced to dragon. The dragon, however, offers vengeance, not death.This is the second or third book by Vivian Vande Velde which I've read. All have been (very short) competent fantasies which haven't worked for me.In this particular outing, we have a typical story about revenge - which is basically a little morality lesson about how vengeance is a bad bad thing and you shouldn't do it. This is not necessarily wrong, if predictable, but when you set up a story about a family who deliberately lie about a girl being a witch, call in a witchfinder, and have her summarily bundled off to be sacrificed (causing her father to have a heart attack), then you need to balance your decision to forego revenge with some form of justice. Alys's set up and then retraction/confession/lie fails to do this, and the family does not show any sign of having "learned a lesson" about not conspiring to murder your neighbours so you can use their house.The romance, which involves a love interest intended to in his way be a "blank slate of morality" onto which Alys's worst nature projects itself, completely failed to work for me. It was one of those attracted without realising it, jealous without realising it (leading to much negativity toward females encountered), mockery on one side, frustration and embarassment on the other kind of romances and those practically never fit for me.I also found the worldbuilding to be slight, particularly a world where girls can be summarily hauled off and killed for being witches, and yet the main character doesn't think about God until the 85% point.This will be my last book by this author, I suspect.