‘The Dragon’s Promise’ – Elizabeth Lim

Princess Shiori is determined to stick to her promise to her stepmother, and to return the pearl to its rightful owner. However, fulfilling this promise is fraught with danger.

She visits the dragon realm, and it is clear that the pearl holds more sway over those who desire it than she realised. The opening of the story took a while to recall exactly who was who, and how they linked to the story. Shiori is tempted to take up the offer to remain in the dragon realm, but her determination to return to Takkan and to fulfil her promise means that her time there is short.

Upon her return we realise very quickly that the people of her homeland fear her magic. Shiori cannot understand why, but she soon sees that the demon has become stronger and that she will have to call on an assortment of people to help her. Assasination attempts, desperate plotting and a perilous journey to return the pearl keep us on our toes.

I liked that Shiori comes to learn more about her stepmother, and exactly who she was. Shiori comes to find acceptance of her skills and talents, and finds the courage to follow her convictions even though they challenge what she has always been taught.

While there was a lot to like here, I felt at times that there were a lot of characters introduced and discarded once they’d served their purpose. The initial focus on the dragon realm suggested an influence that felt lacking by the end, though it does not get wholly ignored. I understand that this ties Shiori and Takkan to the stories of their past, but the ending felt like something of a hedge-better. However, I couldn’t rate it 3 stars as there were many sections – namely those with Kiki, and the story of her stepmother – that were deserving of a higher rating.

Thanks to NetGalley for giving me the opportunity to read this prior to publication.