Becca Mann is a gifted young writer with enormous potential. However she needs the firm hand of a mature content editor who is willing to tell her “no.” Her debut novel, The Stolen Dragon of Quanx, follows the adventures of Kale, a fisherman’s daughter, and her band of friends as they risk everything to save their people from a group of conniving dragons. The novel is an action-filled adventure with plenty of interesting twists and turns along the way, and Mann stays true to the feel of epic fantasy without falling victim to a lot of the tropes. The action sequences are well choreographed and help move the story forward.
The biggest problem with the novel, however, is a huge lack of consistency in both world-building and character development. Some of the world-building issues may be a matter of Mann’s age showing (she published the book at the age of sixteen). Much of the setting construction seems to stem from a naiveté of how cultures work. For example, two enemy tribes share a warrior training ground and allow their young to mingle. Most cultures don’t allow their soldiers to hang out with the enemy, and Mann never really provides any reason for this; I assume because it didn’t occur to her this was actually a problem. There are also simply too many deus ex machina moments for the reader to suspend belief over the course of the entire story. Things happen just at the moment they need to in order to keep the plot moving. Characters change their minds on a whim for no real reason. It is like the entire society is populated by people with mild disorganized schizophrenia.
Teen readers will probably overlook the inconsistencies, and if you can read pass them there is a fine story here. But long-time readers of high fantasy will struggle to turn a blind eye to plot hole after plot hole caused by a lack of consistency.
Reviewer Note: I was given a comp copy of this book for review.