I have to admit to a degree of surprise on hearing that Patrick Ness’s latest novel – Burn – would be about dragons. He just doesn’t seem like a dragon kind of author, I thought. But then, most of his stories are not of the entirely normal kind either, with space travel and hearing men’s thoughts, or any of his other books. So why not dragons?
Why not, indeed? Dragons are lovely. Or can be, in the right hands.
Here we are in 1957 and the strain between the US and the Soviet Union is growing. Things can only get worse.
We are back in Patrick’s part of the world, near Seattle, but out in the sticks, mostly on a farm, or in the woods. 16-year-old Sarah is finding life hard; she’s less white than her neighbours – except for the Japanese boy she rather likes – and her mother died and her father is struggling to make ends meet. That’s why he hires the services of a dragon to help on the farm.
Kazimir (that’s the dragon) is there for another reason. He knows that Sarah is the centre of an ancient prophecy, and he needs to help. There is a religious sort of assassin coming, and two FBI agents.
Whatever you think of these characters, they are both interesting, and mostly quite intelligent. (It’s the sheriff you need to keep your eye on.) This makes them a dream to read about, and you discover, yet again, that people can change, or that bad people can have good in them. And you just don’t know what fate has in store for anyone.
I need to shut up here, so I don’t give the game away. But trust me, it’s a good game.
And, well, I’ve not been told. But there could be a sequel. I’d welcome one. But there doesn’t have to be. This novel is perfect as it is.