When I saw there was a sequel to The Dragon With A Chocolate Heart coming out, I squeaked, immediately put it on pre-order, and requested it on NetGalley. And I’m so glad I did, because this book is just SO good.
Book: The Girl With A Dragon Heart by Stephanie Burgis
Read before: No
Ownership: e-ARC provided through NetGalley for a fair review, but also hard copy coming on release date
So. I definitely loved the first book in this series (my review is here). This sequel follows Silke, Aventurine’s best friend, and is written from her perspective. Silke was engaging, funny, witty, and realistic in the first book, but in this book I just utterly fell in love with her. The plot is much less focused on The Chocolate Heart (the chocolate shop where Aventurine works), but instead follows Silke as she is hired to investigate a mysterious delegation of fairies visiting the royal family – and her attempts to find out what happened to her parents so long ago.
It’s hinted at, in the first book, that Silke’s background is less than happy, and she and her brother live parentless in the dodgy end of the city, but it’s not until this book that the extent of this is seen. Silke’s life has made her street-smart, hard, and quick, and has tested her gift for story-telling. She appears at first glance to be your typical kind of smooth-talking, self-sufficient rogue sidekick, but in this book we get to see right to her heart, and it’s the greatest portrayal of a flawed character I’ve seen in children’s literature.
I love Silke so much, okay? She worries; she over-plans; she fantasises about situations and is disappointed by the way things turn out in reality. She’s constantly seeking approval, whether from her brother, or the Princess, or the people at The Chocolate Heart, but she hates that she wants that approval. She finds it hard to believe that people love her as much as they clearly do. I have never seen imposter syndrome written about so vividly and so well. Silke is angry. She’s powerful and smart. She loves fiercely and would do anything to protect her chosen few. She’s so, so clever, and so, so afraid of being found out.
She’s a baby Slytherin, really. She’s a baby me.
I would read The Adventures of Silke Putting The Washing On. I’d read Silke Goes To The Supermarket. I’d read Shh, Silke Is Sleeping. I just love her.
This, of course, is not to say that this plot isn’t wonderful too. Stephanie’s writing shines, as always, with what I’m coming to understand is her trademark charm and masterful control of pacing. The story absolutely rollicks through the fairy visit, and comes together with a glorious set-piece ending that I would love to see animated. There’s plenty of that gorgeous chocolate, too, and found family (in more than one sense). There’s space for a whole series of books in this world, and I hope to see them!
I don’t know how I’m going to wait until August 9th to hold this in my hands for real – I am very excited. If you have a child, buy them these books. If you’re not a child but you still love MG, then read them!
An obvious five cat read!