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 the 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.
This is my third time attempting to review this book. I've been coming back to it periodically for almost a year now, never able to get my feelings about it down on paper. The first time I wound up just summarizing the entire story (pretty poorly, at that). The second time I got started talking about how much I love it and describing Creel, the main character. Somehow I lost my oomph halfway through my seventh line, and never really got it back. But now I'm trying one more time. Three's a lucky number, right?
Okay, I think I'll start with the characters. Creel first, because she's the main character and because, well, she's awesome. Creel is a fun character for many reasons, from her love for sewing (the clothes descriptions in this book are fantastic!) to her love for - well, someone. Of course, in this book the romance doesn't dominate the scene. No, it's just added to the story. What I love about Creel and the prince's relationship, is that it starts out as a comfortable friendship. It takes the whole first book to become anything more than that, which is really refreshing in today's fantasy novels. But anyway, Creel is fun. She's stubborn and single-minded and - well, and funny. Really funny!
Next, the girls who work at the shop. Not much to say about them without spoilers, but I love how Creel made her opinions about the other shopgirls the first time she met them, but then it turned out her first impressions were completely wrong.
Luka. He's sweet. He's funny. He's not a hunk of meat in shoes. He's an actual person, with an actual life, who becomes friends with Creel. They have things in common, they share a sense of humor, and they like each other as friends before any idea of romance ever comes into either one's head (okay, that might be an overstatement - but still!). I love him as a character, and my love for him has nothing to do with his physical description. He's just a nice person.
As for the dragons, the characterization here is really good. Each dragon has a unique personality without being a caricature, and the idea that every dragon hordes a different good is really cool. The first dragon Creel meets hordes shoes, another words stained-glass windows, and another collects dogs. The type of objects that the dragons collect provide a great reflection of their individual personalities.
The storyline is tight, compelling, and flawlessly executed. I honestly have nothing to critique about this book: I all-around love it. I cherish my signed/personalized copy like the treasure it is, and reread it every nine months to a year. I love the characters, the settings, and the plot. And this is why I've had such a hard time reviewing it: I have to fight to come up with anything besides "I LOVE THIS BOOK! GO READ IT RIGHT NOW! AND THEN READ THE SEQUELS!" Becase really, that's all I have to say about this book at the end of the day. So go. Read the book. Please.