Book Review: Susanna Kearsley’s Named of the Dragon

Posted October 25, 2015 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Susanna Kearsley’s Named of the Dragon

Named of the Dragon


Susanna Kearsley

fiction, literature that was published by Sourcebooks Landmark on October 6, 2015 and has 336 pages.

Explore it on Goodreads or Amazon.

Other books by this author which I have reviewed include The Winter Sea, The Firebird

A standalone fictional novel revolving around Lyn Ravenshaw, a literary agent mourning the loss of her baby five years ago. Takes place in Angle, Pembrokeshire in South Wales.

This ARC was sent to me by NetGalley and Sourcebooks Landmark for an honest review.

My Take

Named of the Dragon was beautifully done, although I didn’t get a real sense of it being Christmas. Oh, the words were there, but I wasn’t feelin’ it. I suspect most of what I did feel was a blend of my own memories of Christmases in England, the cloudy sense of day, of old English houses with the fire chasing down the chill, the warren of passages, the kitchen clutter, and the village streets. The real purpose, however, yeah, that I felt.

It was mostly curiosity as to how things would turn out for Elen and Stevie, what the dream means for Lyn, how the King Arthur legends tied in…the real purpose of the story.

And then the results of those dreams…I never saw that one coming. I was all set for the fantastical, the paranormal, only to be pulled into the catholic.

“‘God, no. Horrible things, scruples,’ she said, with a shudder. ‘They get in the way of my fun.'”

I do like that Bridget can actually be concerned where it counts.

“And it only took four tries to make the penny come up tails.”

It’s an interesting introduction to James Swift. I had been expecting a rakish man prone to flirting, eating, and drinking, but Kearsley doesn’t follow through on this. He’s actually much better, and very, lol, underhanded…in a good way. He will lead a lively dance.

Did’ja know there’s a difference between writers and authors? Oh, aye…

“Authors are rarefied creatures … who write serious fiction.’

‘And writers…’

‘Write books people buy.'”

Even more interesting is how Kearsley sets us up to believe that Bridget is the key, but in truth, she’s the key who turns the lock that opens the door to the real purpose of the story: Lyn’s future. Lyn has so much to get past. And Kearsley slips and slides it all in under cover of Bridget’s desires, James’ indifference, Christopher’s and Gareth’s competing interests, and Lyn as the pivot around which it all spins.

“Originality [is] not a team pursuit, and any story worth the telling grew in solitude.”

Oh, lordy, I did enjoy Christopher’s comment over lunch at Owen and Dily’s place about their son, and his…how many was that?…wife. And Dilys never picked up on it, although Owen had a snicker about it.

It’s fascinating to read a story and pick up on the background details like the red and the white dragon that I remember from Nicole Peeler’s Jane True series and then G.A. Aiken’s Cadwaladr from her Dragon Kin series. Kearsley reminds me that authors pick up inspiration from everywhere, and that history is a rich mine of materials.

I kept laughing inside as Lyn dragged out that tour of Pembroke Castle, lol. And I cannot blame Lyn one bit at all for torturing Gareth.

It’s a slow, lazy read as the holidays slip from one day to the next, presenting opportunities to get to know people, to learn their fears and dreams, to explore the area, and to set the stage. When it comes, it’s abrupt and will shake up your mind. For you will never have expected what comes.

The Story

Although it goes against her workaholic nature, literary agent Lyn Ravenshaw lets herself be whisked off to Wales for the Christmas holidays by her star client, flamboyant children’s author Bridget Cooper. She suspects Bridget has ulterior motives, but the lure of South Wales with its castles and myths and the change of scene will bring relief from the nightmares that have plagued her since the death of her child.

But the dreams continue. With a twist, when an eccentric young widow thinks Lyn is her baby’s protector.

Before she can escape her nightmares, she must uncover the secret of these new dreams, from a long ago time that may not be that far away…

The Characters

Lyn Ravenshaw is a literary agent for the Simon Holland Agency in London, haunted by the death of her baby, Justin. Her husband, Martin Blake, had been a novelist before he died. Patrick is her brother, and he and his wife live in Vancouver, Canada, where they both protest to their hearts’ content.

Bridget Cooper is a self-absorbed writer with her best selling Lalandrah series. She claims she’s not an author! James Swift is Bridget’s current boyfriend and a brilliant writer — Lyn thinks he’s “the closest thing to literary genius”. Christopher is his younger brother who sells antiques in his shop in Bath.

Angle, Pembrokeshire…
…is where Lyn will be spending Christmas. Gareth Gwyn Morgan is a famous (and reclusive) playwright who wrote Red Dragon Rising who lives in what locals still call Auntie Frances’ cottage. Chance is his dog; Sovereign is his horse.

Elen Vaughan, a free spirit without a spiteful word for anyone, is Uncle Ralph’s tenant; she rents the other end of the trio of houses, East House. Tony was Elen’s husband. Stevie is her little boy.

Uncle Ralph and Auntie Pam own Castle Farm; they’re really old friends of the Swifts’ mother, but the Swifts have all known them for years. They spend time with their daughter up in Yorkshire. Owen is a fellow farmer who looks after the animals when they’re gone; James minds the house. Dilys is Owen’s wife, a woman with very firm opinions.

Margaret is the blue-gowned woman in the dream.

Lewis is Lyn’s assistant. Graham is one of Lyn’s co-workers; he works in the film and television rights department. Julia Beckett is a brilliant illustrator. Ivor Whitcomb is the “Goliath of the London literary scene” and a major jerk. He’s currently James’ agent.

The Cover and Title

The cover is peaceful with its pale blue sky framed in clouds with Lyn’s dark brown hair floating down the back of her cream fisherman’s sweater as she sits on a rocky wall, facing away from us and looking over the fields to the sea, the ruined castle of Pembroke in the distance. There’s a ragged black edge thinly creating a border on the top and sides that reinforce the feel of looking in.

The title is the fear, a dream of being Named of the Dragon, and the warnings it presents.