Title: Dragon Trials (Return of the Darkening, Book 1)
Author: Ava Richardson
Published: November 7, 2015
Publisher: Ava Richardson
Agathea Flamma wants nothing more than for a dragon to choose her to be a Dragon Rider. The noble House of Flamma is part of a long tradition of riders, her two older brothers are riders, and this may just be her last chance. She knows her father wouldn’t mind seeing her get married and have a family, but that’s just not enough for her. Sebastian, the son of a drunken blacksmith with no real prospects or aspirations beyond someday inheriting his father’s business (hopefully before he runs it completely into the ground), has seen the dragons, but doesn’t even entertain the life Thea hopes for–dragons choose children of noble families with education and training, don’t they?
The first of many interesting twists comes when a young red dragon picks both Thea and Seb as her riders. For Thea, the dream come true might be more of a nightmare as her partner has no training, no understanding of what it means to be a rider, and doesn’t seem to be able to learn how to fight. For Seb, the sudden prospect of a completely new life is overshadowed by the attitudes of those around him, Thea’s lack of trust, and his own feelings of having to work that much harder than everyone else to be successful. After all, they’re not guaranteed to become Dragon Riders just because a dragon chose them. They have many trials and weeks of training ahead.
But training may not be their biggest concern. Stories are making their way from the north about strange events that seem eerily similar to the time of the Darkening–something the Dragon Riders helped drive out of their land. Is their realm really under threat? Does the King know about it? And if the Darkening has returned, can the riders fight it again?
I always like when I pick up a book on a bit of a whim and I end up really enjoying it. This is a fun, intriguing, and adventurous young adult fantasy that is certainly engaging and interesting for fantasy lovers of all ages. There are several layers to the plot that make for a complex and dynamic story. Thea has to adjust to the fact that the reality of becoming a Dragon Rider is not exactly what she expected. Seb needs to find his way in a part of society where he feels like a complete outsider. They both have to learn the skills needed to be successful in their new roles. And the stories of the Darkening possibly returning add more concerns for everyone involved.
I’m definitely looking forward to the next book in the series…[I received a copy of this book from the author via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.]