A- #BookReview: Miss Percy’s Pocket Guide to the Care and Feeding of British Dragons by Quenby Olson

A- #BookReview: Miss Percy’s Pocket Guide to the Care and Feeding of British Dragons by Quenby OlsonMiss Percy's Pocket Guide to the Care and Feeding of British Dragons (Miss Percy Guide, #1) by Quenby Olson
Format: ebook
Source: purchased from Amazon
Formats available: paperback, ebook, audiobook
Genres: cozy fantasy, historical fantasy
Series: Miss Percy Guide #1
Pages: 397
on October 26, 2021
Purchasing Info: Author's WebsiteAmazonBarnes & NobleBookshop.orgBetter World Books

Miss Mildred Percy inherits a dragon.
Ah, but we’ve already got ahead of ourselves…
Miss Mildred Percy is a spinster. She does not dance, she has long stopped dreaming, and she certainly does not have adventures. That is, until her great uncle has the audacity to leave her an inheritance, one that includes a dragon’s egg.
The egg - as eggs are wont to do - decides to hatch, and Miss Mildred Percy is suddenly thrust out of the role of “spinster and general wallflower” and into the unprecedented position of “spinster and keeper of dragons.”
But England has not seen a dragon since… well, ever. And now Mildred must contend with raising a dragon (that should not exist), kindling a romance (with a humble vicar), and embarking on an adventure she never thought could be hers for the taking.

My Review:

At first, Miss Percy seems like a rather quiet and retiring sort of person, and her book seems like a rather quiet and cozy sort of book. Both of these things are true – and both of them are not.

Miss Percy is quiet because it has become the only way she can survive as a disregarded, disapproved of and constantly overseen and overworked spinster in the household her sister rules with an iron fist.

The meek, mild mouse of a woman is not the person Mildred Percy aspired to be when she was an adventurous child. It’s not even the person she planned to be when she chose to stay at home and nurse her ailing father.

It’s just what happened along the way of putting one foot in front of the other and getting through each day as an unmarried gentlewoman of no independent means whatsoever. It was the safe and easy path.

At least until her Great-Uncle Forthright died and left her a trunk full of bits and bobs and papers and oddments, the detritus of a scientific mind and an adventurous life. A life that he has, wittingly or not, passed to the great-niece he remembered as a free-spirited girl three decades gone.

But surprisingly, and delightfully come again, while dragging the trunk of legacy secretly away from her sister’s overbearing presence and opinions, and straight into the brawny arms of the local vicar, Mr. Wiggan – an unmarried man of a certain age not too far at all from her own.

A man of God Mr. Wiggan may be, but he also possesses every bit of the same spirit of discovery and adventure that her late, great-uncle did, as well as a willingness to help her investigate that legacy.

Which turns out to include, not just books and papers, but also a well-wrapped, deeply hidden, curious looking rock. A rock which hatches into an equally curious dragon.

And thereby hangs a tale of adventure, discover, and even romance of Miss Mildred Percy’s own, as Mildred’s – and Mr. Wiggan’s – efforts to save and protect the little dragon burn away the shyness and diffidence that have held both of them back.

Escape Rating A-: I picked this up because I saw it on a list of cozy fantasies, and it seemed like the perfect book for a chilly winter weekend. And it was calling my name rather loudly, with occasional puffs of smoke for emphasis.

While of course I fell in love with the little dragon – just as Mildred does – I stayed for Mildred, very much in the way that I got so thoroughly stuck into all of the protagonists in the Never Too Old to Save the World collection. Because Mildred had become convinced that her time was passed and that she had no choice but to cover under her sister’s thumb, raise her sister’s children, and take up as little space as possible in a household where she was forced to live on the tiniest amount of sufferance possible.

The little dragon, with his puffs of smoky breath and occasionally sparky sneezes, lit a fire in Mildred that had been banked so thoroughly that the embers sputtered A LOT before they finally caught. And caught Mildred up in the radical idea that, at forty years of age, she still had plenty of time for adventures if only she could just bring her courage to the sticking point, defy her sister, and seize the days yet to come.

So, just as the little dragon hatches from his shell, we follow along with Mildred as she cracks open her own. She might not have been willing to step out of her comfort zone just for herself, because her whole life has taught her that’s not her place, but she will take on all comers to keep the dragon safe – no matter how much she shakes in her boots as she fights her battles on his behalf.

As much as I was enjoying Mildred’s hesitant steps towards adventure, the tone of this book teased me for multiple chapters as I settled in for this cozy winter read. Because it reads a bit like Pride and Prejudice – not in the plot, but in the setting, the characters and the writing style. Particularly as Mildred’s sister, Mrs. Diana Muncy, reads very, very much like a smarter, meaner version of Mrs. Bennet from Jane Austen’s classic romance and comedy of manners.

I got so deeply into the story that it took me halfway through before the dragon’s name dropped the clue-by-four on my head – just as the villains attempted to throw the creature from a second-story window. (The dragon has wings, so things did not go AT ALL according to their dastardly plan.) They named the dragon Fitz, after, of course, Fitzwilliam Darcy. Making the ‘pocket’ description of Miss Percy’s Pocket Guide to the Care & Feeding of British Dragons – you guessed it and I’m chagrined at how long it took me to – Pride and Prejudice and Dragons!

Which is not played for nearly as many over-the-top laughs and innuendos as Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. So, if you think Pride and Prejudice was a good story that just needed more dragons, this cozy fantasy is a delight from beginning to end.

Certainly this reader was utterly delighted by the whole saga, which means that I’m doubly pleased that Mildred’s, Fitz’ and Mr. Wiggan’s adventures are far from over. The next book in this charming cozy fantasy series, Miss Percy’s Travel Guide to Welsh Moors and Feral Dragons, is already out and rapidly clawing its way up my virtually towering TBR pile for the next time I’m in the mood for a cozy fantasy with more dragons!

One thought on “A- #BookReview: Miss Percy’s Pocket Guide to the Care and Feeding of British Dragons by Quenby Olson

  1. I read it this weekend and thoroughly enjoyed it. A few stylistic things got me. The parenthetical notes, while frequently amusing, were a tad overused and the occasional drops into authorial voice took me a bit to catch on and then another bit to get back into the story, but a charming read overall, especially once Mildred starts showing some attitude. Mostly I love Mrs. Babbington. She’s a brilliant sidekick.

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