Dragon Slippers, by Jessica Day George, was published in 2007 by Bloomsbury.
Many stories tell of damsels in distress who are rescued from the clutches of fire-breathing dragons by knights in shining armor and swept off to live happily ever after. Unfortunately, this is not one of those stories. True, when Creel’s aunt suggests sacrificing her to the local dragon, it is with the hope that a knight will marry Creel and that everyone (aunt and family included) will benefit handsomely. Yet it’s Creel who talks her way out of the dragon’s clutches. And it’s Creel who walks for days on end to seek her fortune in the king’s city with only a bit of embroidery thread and a strange pair of slippers in her possession. But even Creel could not have guessed the outcome of this tale. For in a country on the verge of war, Creel unknowingly possesses not just any pair of shoes, but a tool that could be used to save her kingdom…or destroy it.
When I first read Dragon Slippers a couple of years ago, I loved it. Recently, I’ve been having a desire to fill my life with dragons, so I picked it up again. Unfortunately, I didn’t enjoy Dragon Slippers as much this time around.
I think the concept of it is great; I like the dragons, the slippers, the conspiracy, and the rest. George does a good job with the world and I especially liked the bittersweet feel to the idea of dragons being controlled. We have enough of a connection to Shardas to understand Creel’s pain, and it’s especially heartbreaking when we see the havoc wreaked upon the stained glass. Forcing someone to destroy what is theirs is awful, and that awfulness is reflected in the text nicely.
So, I didn’t really have a problem with the concept or the plot. It was the characters and their interactions with which I had the most problems. I liked Creel, and I liked that in the book her role was of the “more traditional” variety of embroidery and dressmaking. I’m sick of girl protagonists who scoff at sewing and want to do swordfighting instead. What’s wrong with sewing? But still, I found some of the things that revolved around her a bit too hard to swallow. Such as her relationship with Luka. I found no earthly reason for Luka to be so interested in Creel. Okay, yeah, so she’s “different” from the other girls—but she’s not so different from Marta that it would stand out so much. I suppose it was the old “She reacted differently from everyone else I know; therefore I like her,” in which case, blah. That’s been done a million times before and I’m not fond of it anymore.
I also didn’t like the one-dimensional feel to Larkin, as well as the overall “new girl arrives in town and is incredibly forthright and shuns propriety and those who praise her become her friends and those who censor her are petty and jealous losers” feel to the novel as a whole.
Yes to dragons, no to tropes is basically how I feel about Dragon Slippers.
Recommended Age Range: 12+
Warnings: Some violence.
Genre: Fantasy, Middle Grade
“By the Seven Volcanoes,” the gold dragon swore. “Where did you come by those slippers?” Its head dropped down so that its long muzzle lay on the ground and it could gaze at my feet from a distance of less than a pace. I twitched nervously but tried not to move otherwise, still fealing the heat of its fire on my face.
“I got them from Theoradus, the brown dragon of Carlieff,” I repeated, my voice hardly more than a whisper and all my false bravado gone.
“He simply gave them to you? There must have been a reason. Tell me, girl, what caused him to such a thing?”