When Llandry Sanfaer, a painfully shy young jewellery maker, discovers a cave full of irresistible precious stones she thinks she’s onto a winner. But there’s always a catch, and in Llandry’s case the beautiful gems cause her problems of beastly proportions. Customers are soon being murdered for Llandry’s creations, and the layers of her safe little world start to crumble. This strife soon draws in elegant, fiercely independent noblewoman, Lady Eva Glostrum, and they start uncovering some alarming facts about the magical yet strictly regulated worlds of the Seven Realms. Old family secrets and older conspiracies soon erupt, along with many stranger and far deadlier challenges.
In the Seven Realms there are strictly defined layers of darkness and light, the sunshiney Uppers, governed only under daylight, maintains strict barriers in place against the dangerous, mesmerising lands of the Lowers. Trouble brews across the land as these barriers fail and new gateways open, and somehow it all links in to Llandry’s discovery in the cave.
Draykon takes us into a vividly realised, dreamily colourful world bursting with incredible beasts and powerful magic. It would make a gorgeous animated series, and I mean that as a high compliment, perhaps in the style of the Secret of Kells? I especially liked the Glyssonwool blossoms – and fantastical creatures (where can I get a pet orting?), were all beautifully brought to life. With conspiracies, sorcerers and monsters to contend with, this was a great story. It wasn’t long before I was totally drawn in and rooting for Llandry to get a little braver, to beat her fears and face up to the outside world, and for Eva to survive at all. Draykon almost made me miss my bus stop a few times over the week I was reading it, which is always a good indicator.
While I’d have liked to see the two main protagonists interact a little more, and while there was a lot of travelling (which worked for Tolkein after all) Llandry and Eva’s separate paths carve deftly through the gripping story. With Llandry just beginning her journey, and Lady Eva coming to terms with a few things, there’s plenty to come back for and I will be revisiting the Seven Realms very soon, in Lokant.