This story is the third in Shana Abé's engaging Drákon series, the follow up to "The Smoke Thief" and "The Dream Thief". The Drákon are a race of people who appear human but have the ability to turn into dragons or smoke, although these abilities are gradually becoming less common amongst the Drákon. The previous two books have identified two different communities of Drákon, the first living at Darkfrith in England and the second in Transylvania.
The heroine of this story is Princess Maricara of Transylvania, the child bride of the ruler of the lost drákon tribe. That ruler, Imre, was killed in "The Dream Thief" and the Princess was left to rule alone at the age of fifteen. As the main part of this story starts, Maricara is nineteen and is troubled by her own people and by various English Drákon attempting to find her castle in Transylvania and being killed on the way. She decides that she has to leave her brother in charge of the community and to travel to Darkfrith in England to warn the Drákon there of the existence of Dragon Hunters.
Once she arrives, however, she discovers she's meant to marry the Alpha of the Darkfrith group, Kimber Langford, Earl of Chasen. It's also clear that the Darkfrith Drákon have plans to annex the Transylvania Drákon and can't be trusted. Maricara doesn't understand or abide by their rules which have been created to avoid detection and she has a problem in that she seems to sleepwalk into her dragon form, causing carnage. Can she and Kimber protect the Drákon from those hunting them down, and who is behind their pursuers? And can Maricara learn to accept her apparent role as wife of the Alpha in England?
This story is written in the same atmospheric and enjoyable style as the previous two books. The world of the Drákon with their Smoke and Dragon forms is fascinating, with beautifully written descriptions of them flying. The conflict between what they want and what is necessary for their kind is also well written although the love story aspect of this story didn't work quite as well for me. I also found it a little disappointing that the book didn't reach a complete resolution and that there were several question marks over things that had happened in the story which weren't explained fully. The book seemed to be setting the reader up for another book with Kimber's brother Rhys and possibly more from Zane who featured briefly in this book. It was a good read, as the other two have been, but also less satisfying, but will no doubt still be enjoyable to fans Shana Abé's Drákon world.
Originally published for Curled Up With A Good Book, www.curledup.com. © Helen Hancox 2007