Book Review: The Language of Spells

The Language of Spells by Garret Weyr, also Freymann-...
The Language of Spells 
by Garret Weyr, also Freymann-Weyr
Katie Harnett (Illustrations)

3 out of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this book about a dragon under an enchantment and the little girl who gives up everything to save him and his fellow dragons!

Grisha is still a young dragon when an evil sorcerer freezes him into the shape of a small teapot. Trapped within the teapot for decades, Grisha dreams of being free once more, but as soon as a friend breaks the enchantment of the teapot, Grisha is trapped in another kind of prison. The cruel bureaucracy of Vienna keeps a close watch on the few dragons allowed to remain in the city, and every aspect of Grisha’s life is locked between rigid rules and regulations, even restricting his thoughts and words.
Little Maggie is the daughter of a poet and painter, and sees the world differently than most people. When she befriends Grisha, the two embark on a quest to free Vienna’s dragons from the cruel Department of Extinct Exotics. The DEE is run by merciless enchanted cats, who seem determined to stop Maggie and Grisha from overturning their authority over the dragons.
Grisha and Maggie discover that most of the dragons are missing, taken away by the DEE. In order to restore the missing dragons, they must give up everything they hold dear and stretch their friendship to the limit.

I loved the plot, once it finally got going. Way too much time was spent in Grisha’s teapot-enchanted timeline, and we don’t even meet Maggie until almost half-way into the story. It would have been much better to shorten the beginning, or gradually reveal Grisha’s past through flashbacks or stories that he tells to Maggie.

I loved the magic and fairy-tale elements of the story! The “magic has a price” system is one that I’ve always enjoyed reading about, and I was intrigued by the enchanted cats and the various characteristics of the dragons.

I really adored Maggie! She’s awkward and smart and compassionate. She’s desperate to make friends, but doesn’t seem to connect with other children. She finally meets Grisha and finds a friend that she can really understand and relate to. Maggie’s special relationship with her father is very sweet and touching. They stick together as a family, and communicate very well.

Grisha is an interesting character. Being a dragon, he’s quite different from what you would expect, and he often reacts in odd ways to various scenes and plot points. But that makes him a deeper character, and a lovable one! He’s sometimes brave, sometimes cautious to the point of cowardice. A beautiful complex character in many ways!

The writing is whimsical and thoughtful, but the beginning is just too long, and then the ending is too short. At times the writing got a little bit boring, because it had some problems with pacing. The pace is slow and thoughtful, almost putting the reader into a calm, meditative state. This is part of it’s charm, and I liked the pace most of the time, but every once in a while, I just wanted something to really happen! There isn’t a ton of action, especially in the beginning. Then all the action is crowded into the end.

I really needed more explanation at the end, and more of a denouement. It IS a satisfactory ending in many ways, but I just needed one more little chapter, one more paragraph or two to really wrap things up nicely. Maybe it’s left hanging on purpose, so that your imagination can fill in the gaps. It’s certainly an artistic ending, but I’m a reader who likes lots of closure.

Overall, I really liked the characters and the plot, but the writing sometimes fell short.

Disclaimer: I received an ecopy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for a free and honest review. All the opinions stated here are my own true thoughts and are not influenced by anyone.

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