The Girl with the Dragon Heart
(Tales of The Chocolate Heart #2)
Written by Stephanie Burgis
Published by Bloomsbury UK
Publication date: 9th August 2018
Age range: 10+
Summary (from Goodreads):
Once upon a time, in a beautiful city famous for chocolate and protected by dragons, there was a girl so fearless that she dared to try to tell the greatest story of all: the truth.
Silke has always been good at spinning the truth and storytelling. So good that just years after arriving as a penniless orphan, she has found her way up to working for the most splendid chocolate makers in the city (oh, and becoming best friends with a dragon). Now her gift for weaving words has caught the eye of the royal family, who want to use her as a spy when the mysterious and dangerous fairy royal family announce they will visit the city. But Silke has her own dark, secret reasons for not trusting fairies …
Can Silke find out the truth about the fairies while keeping her own secrets hidden? From the author of the magical The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart comes a second magical adventure perfect for fans of Cressida Cowell, Cornelia Funke and Peter Bunzl.
Once upon a time in a beautiful , dirty, exciting city full of people and chocolate and possibilities, there was a girl so fearless and so daring that … No, wait. I’ve always been good at telling stories. But this time, I want to tell the truth. The truth is that, for once, my older brother was right: it wasn’t sensible for me to accept the crown princess’s challenge. A thirteen-year-old girl from the riverbank, with no proper home or schooling, setting out to mix with royals, match wits with vengeful fairies and stand up for her entire city? Anyone in Drachenburg could have told me that was absurd. But there’s one other truth I know for sure: if you have the courage to tell your own story, you can remake the world.
First impressions: I picked up the first book in this series, The Dragon with the Chocolate Heart from my local library, thinking it looked interesting but not really expecting that much. I absolutely adored it! So, when I saw this second book and heard that it was going to be following the street-smart Silke, one of my favourite characters from the first book, I couldn’t wait to pick this up! I also love the cover – it looks like it will be even more special in the hard copy as it has foiling. I am especially looking forward to seeing what adventures Aventurine and Silke go on, especially now that Aventurine can control her dragon transformations…
This book had everything that made me love the first book, with the added bonus of exploring more of the world and digging deeper into the background of Silke, one of my favourite characters from the first book. One of the strengths of this book (and the first) was the characters, all of whom are drawn with such care and are flawed, realistic and lovable. Even the ‘baddies’ are given development and motivation, which is great. Aventurine was the main character in the first book and still remains a favourite, although she doesn’t get as much attention in this instalment as the focus is on Silke. We find out how Silke arrived in the city, where her parents are and why her relationship with her brother is so strained. We get to see beneath her confident facade to the girl underneath, who is still a child in so many ways.
In a way, seeing her doubts and fragility makes her even more impressive when she uses her quick wits and clever storytelling to talk her way out of a number of increasingly-tighter spots. I also enjoyed getting to learn more about the two princesses, as Princess Katrin reveals how she calculates and controls the kingdom in place of her rather-useless father and Sofia attempts to spy with the diplomatic skills of a teaspoon.
Getting to meet the fairy court, emerged from underground for the first time in over a hundred years, was also a highlight, particularly as I imagine they will play a part in future books.
This book moves at a quick pace, with plans being created, destroyed and discarded almost as fast as you can read them.
It is a rip-roaring adventure, full of girls taking their destiny into their own hands and showcasing the power of intelligence and careful planning, rather than rushing in with all guns blazing (or dragonfire roaring as Aventurine would have it).
Fantastic adventure for all ages!
‘Once upon a time …’ I whispered to myself. It was the way my mother had started all of her stories, every single evening of my childhood. Just the sound of those words had been enough, back then, to fill me with comfort as I’d lain safe and warm in my own bed, waiting to find out what would happen in someone else’s exciting story. Now I whispered the words to myself for strength. I was calm . I was confident. I was the heroine of my own story, not the villain. And no matter what Dieter thought, our parents would be proud of me if they could see me now, travelling across the city every day to hunt down my own happy ending.
What I liked: Returning to the world of the first book, getting to know more about Silke, girls n control and showing their power and intelligence, dragons are always good…as is more chocolate!
Even better if: I wish I had my hard copy already! And, dare I hope for Book 3?
How you could use it in your classroom: Both this and the first book in this series would make a brilliant read-aloud for Year 3 (Age 7-8) plus classes or as an independent read for children aged around 10+ (obviously, there is nothing to stop those younger from reading it if it;s a suitable level or they really want to). The inclusion of dragons and chocolate might entice a few readers and the clever, young characters are excellent role models for both boys and girls.
Read Chapter 1 online now on the author’s website.
(Thank you to Netgalley and Bloomsbury UK for my e-ARC)
Thanks for reading!