Title: Alliana, Girl of Dragons
Author: Julie Abe (she/her)
Genre/s and Tags: Middle Grade, Fantasy, Dragons, Retellings, Childrens, Asian Literature, Fairy Tales, Adventure
Once upon a time, Alliana believed in dreams and fairy tales as sweet as spun-sugar clouds. Alliana wished on shooting stars, sure that someday she and her grandmother would be able to travel to the capital city to see the queen. Then her grandmother passed away—and those dreams disappeared in a disenchanted puff.
Now Alliana’s forced to attend to the whims of her wicked stepmother—with long days of cleaning her stepfamily’s inn as her skin burns raw or staying up until the crack of dawn to embroider her stepsister’s ball gowns. Until she meets two beings who change her life forever—the first is a young nightdragon who Alliana discovers she can magically talk to. And the second is Nela, a young witch.
Nela needs Alliana’s help navigating the mysterious abyss, filled with dangerous beasts, a place Alliana knows by heart. Alliana sees Nela’s request as a chance to break free of her stepmother’s shadow and to seize a chance at a life she’s barely dared to hope for—but there’s a risk. If caught, Alliana will be stuck working for her stepmother for the rest of her life. Can Alliana truly make wisps of dreams into her own, better-than-a-fairy-tale happily ever after?
Inspired by the Japanese Cinderella story and set in the same world as the Eva Evergreen series, this story can be read as a standalone.
For the playlist I wanted to include songs with Japanese elements, fairy tale vibes, about friendship, grief and dragons!
Thank you to TBR and Beyond Tours for a physical copy and eARC in exchange for an honest review and promotion. All opinions are my own.
This was a lovely prequel! I hope it gets a sequel.
Alliana, Girl of Dragons takes place in the same world as Abe’s debut, Eva Evergreen, Semi-Magical Witch. However, this one takes place before Eva is born. In it we follow Alliana, a human girl who used to love fairytales and always had imaginative dreams. All of that came crashing down after her father died. Now she’s forced to do menial labor for her stepmother through all her waking hours.
But when Alliana meets Nela, a young witch, and a nightdragon that can talk to her, she finds her life changing in unexpected ways. Nela needs Alliana’s help to navigate the abyss, but Alliana must sneak around her stepfamily in order to help Nela. Everything balances on a precipice and Alliana must decide whether the risk is worth it to achieve her dreams.
So this is a Cinderella retelling. I didn’t realize that at first, but when you start reading it, it’s very obvious. I love that it’s set in the same world as Eva Evergreen! I loved that world so much and it was so cool to dive into the more non-magical side of it.
Alliana is an adventurous girl who’s tamed her desires to conform to what he stepmother wants. I loved seeing Nela and the other witches help bring Alliana back out of her shell. I also really loved seeing them form such a strong friendship. Friendship and following your heart is a big part of this novel. I loved Alliana’s growth and seeing her figure out what she really wants.
Alliana’s friendship with her dragon was so awesome. I loved seeing them become close and how they protected each other. Someone else said there wasn’t enough dragon in this, but I felt like the dragon was plenty present. Though I’d never say no to even more, but he is a big player in the novel.
The ending was so hopeful and it really step up for the start of a new series. I am very hopeful there will be one. I’d love to see Alliana’s journey continue.
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About the Author:
Julie Abe is the author of the EVA EVERGREEN, SEMI-MAGICAL WITCH middle grade fantasy series; the middle grade fantasy ALLIANA, GIRL OF DRAGONS; and the young adult novel THE CHARMED LIST. She has lived in Silicon Valley, spent many humid summers in Japan, and currently basks in the sunshine of Southern California with never enough books or tea. Keep up with Julie’s latest books and adventures at instagram.com/julieabebooks or sign up for her newsletter at julieabebooks.com/newsletter.