Publication Date: November 25, 2013
What if we don’t know all that is out there? What if there are things that have always just been beyond our comprehension? In Endangered Creatures by Stephen Dunkley, only a few people know of the continued existence of dragons. One of those people is Connor Bradley whose job it is to relocate waste. Connor is about to get the surprise of his life when he meets the planet’s biggest conservationists.
The author, Stephen Dunkley, gave me a copy of this novel in exchange for my review.
The premise of Endangered Creatures is a fabulous idea for a story. A secret world living under our noses. Dunkley gives us a good background on the creatures that are both plausible and entertaining. These dragons are thinking beings living much like the humans around them. Their leader and father Bob, decided that there was no sense in wiping out humanity even if they’re as bad as dragon’s health — instead — why not use them to their benefit? Make an alliance with those who want to rule and trade to get what you want, a quiet life.
While I truly enjoyed the premise of the novel, the execution left something to be desired for at times. Toward the start of the novel, Bob has a theological discussion with the King that seems forced. When Bob was negotiating with the King, the conversation fell into natural rhythms, but the start of the scene read as a bit shrewish on the part of Bob; and while he’s openly mocking, I had the sense that the author was trying to find the lines.
Character development is another issue. Even if the author doesn’t flesh out the bulk of the characters, the reader wants spectacular main characters. Connor, for most of the first part of the book, seems to have an awkward relationship with his author. At times, Connor comes off as a very awkward and unnatural. The discovery of Connor’s mixed heritage comes as a low point in that it could have been a moment for Connor since he’s largely not a part of that lightbulb moment. Susan, Connor’s companion, is a manticore (face of a human, body of a lion) and more the rock that holds them together. She’s got this, but there are times when she’s quite hard to believe, given the way she’s written.
The good news is that from the moment Connor’s difference is discovered, the story comes into its own. The flow and pace improve, and the awkward Bambi-on-Ice feeling of the writing earlier in the story evaporates. By the end of the story, a full promise of fun, adventure and the overall difference is fulfilled. I have seen this work compared to Douglas Adams, but I’d lean more toward Jasper Fforde for conveying a similar fun. I will tell my followers that they should stick with this author because with this novel being so good, whatever he does next is going to be spectacular because practice will have paid off.
Pick Endangered Creatures by Stephen Dunkley up if you want a quick and entertaining read for the holidays. Read an excerpt and buy on