Going Down in Flames is a well-written, entertaining coming of age novel about a girl who shape-shifts into a dragon. This is a wonderful book for any fan of Young Adult Fantasy. I like paranormal novels – vampires, werewolves, fallen angels, Greek gods, etc. – and in my opinion, dragons are a refreshing and enjoyable spin on the genre. The enchanting story-telling alone will win new readers to the YA Fantasy club. As of the time of this post, the book is only $.99 on Amazon – go grab a copy for this price while you can.
Keep reading for a giveaway, excerpt and info about the author, Chris Cannon.
But first: I honestly enjoyed everything about this book – the original plot, quick pace, surprises (good and bad) and an exciting cast of characters that make the tale a fantastic experience.
In the first two chapters, Bryn McKenna’s whole world is turned upside down when she discovers she’s a dragon. Her parents are forced to debrief her on dragon life: five Clans, identified by scale color and unique powers, are subject to strict laws enforced by the Directorate. Among the bombshells dropped that day is the fact that Bryn’s parents are from different Clans. Forbidden to marry, they eloped and lived in exile. As a hybrid dragon, Bryn has no Clan – making her an outcast in this new life. She must attend the Institute of Excellence, a private boarding school for dragons. She is given a cold reception on her first day, and any hope of flying under the radar is dashed during Orientation.
Bryn copes with this sweeping change with an arsenal that surely served her well before her transformation: dry humor, witty sarcasm, junk food and cute underwear. She is funny, smart, vulnerable and (except for the dragon parts) every bit a real teenager letting go of the past while facing an uncertain future. Bryn is freaking hilarious, and her clever comebacks and private thoughts will make you smile cover to cover, promise. Kudos to the author for crafting such a likeable, authentic character coming of age in a such a fantastical setting.
Despite her pariah status on campus, Bryn is befriended by a trio of Black Dragons: kindhearted Ivy, fun and flirty Clint and resident bad boy, Zavien. These characters become Bryn’s support system. Ivy and Clint help her acclimate to her new life and provide unconditional friendship in a hostile environment. Zavien is dark and mysterious, but at times (like when he catches Bryn reading a romance novel – one of my favorite scenes) lighthearted and charming.
While adjusting to life as a dragon and a new school, Bryn becomes entangled in a mission – and the very things that make her unique make her perfect for the task. The tension between the status quo and this mixed-breed dragon makes for excellent conflict. The bad guys (Ferrin and Jaxon) are also full of depth and surprises. No one is how they seem at first glance, and uncovering the layers the characters (even then ones you love to hate) in this book is one of the many facets that make this novel shine.
Like everyone else who has read and loved Going Down in Flames, I am eager to get to Book 2 ASAP!!
Here is the official book blurb:
If her love life is going down in flames, she might as well spark a revolution.
Finding out on your sixteenth birthday you’re a shape-shifting dragon is tough to swallow. Being hauled off to an elite boarding school is enough to choke on.
Since Bryn is the only crossbreed at the Institute for Excellence, all eyes are on her, but it’s a particular black dragon, Zavien, who catches her attention.
Zavien is tired of the Council’s rules. Segregated clans, being told who to love, and close-minded leaders make freedom of choice almost impossible. The new girl with the striped hair is a breath of fresh air, and with Bryn’s help, they may be able to change the rules.
At the Institute, old grudges, new crushes, and death threats are all part of a normal day for Bryn. She’ll need to learn to control her dragon powers if she wants to make it through her first year at school. But even focusing on staying alive is difficult when you’re falling for someone you can’t have.
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“In the interest of not keeping secrets, there’s something I need to tell you about. Onyx—”
“Not here.” He glanced around like someone might be listening. Placing an arm around her shoulders, he steered her down the sidewalk. “We need to visit the library.”
Most of the students they passed gave her dirty looks. “By my calculations, two-thirds of the students aren’t pleased to see me.”
“Think of it this way. More than thirty percent of the students aren’t hostile.”
“As long as the others don’t come after me with torches and pitchforks, I’ll try to be optimistic.”
Once they entered the library, Zavien pretended to show her around. Why all the secrecy? Why couldn’t he talk to her in the theater department? Didn’t he trust Nola?
When they reached the second floor, he led her to a row of doors. “These are study cubicles.” He checked the area, which seemed devoid of students. “All clear.” He opened a door and shooed her inside.
The four-by-four-foot room didn’t allow for much personal space. She breathed in his summer rainstorm scent, and butterflies flew around her stomach.
“Onyx came to see me. He gave me a gift.” She tugged on the necklace, which caught on her bra. Her face heated. Why wasn’t anything ever simple? She turned her back on Zavien, sliding her shoulder against his chest and kicking her hormones into second gear in the process. And now she was reaching into her shirt. Awkward didn’t begin to cover it.
“I would ask what you’re doing, but it’s more interesting to wait and find out.”
She could hear the smirk in his voice.
“I’m having technical difficulties with my necklace. There, I got it.” She turned around, holding the charm away from her skin. “Onyx gave me this. I don’t know what it’s for, but there’s some sort of spell on it.”
Zavien placed his hand under the key. “You’re right. It feels enchanted.”
He leaned in to take a closer look. When he exhaled, his warm breath feathered across her chest and neck, sending inappropriate signals to her nerve endings. Suddenly, there wasn’t enough air in the little room.
“My dad tested it and said it wasn’t a bad charm, but I don’t know how it could be a good one. Onyx said I was the key to the Directorate’s downfall.” And she was babbling. “To sum up, do you have any idea about the key or Onyx’s message?”
“If he gave you this key, it’s safe. As for the other, he likes to dramatize things.” Zavien straightened so he was no longer breathing into her cleavage. “I’ll leave word you have questions, and he’ll find you.”
He released the key and backed up a step. “Anything else I should know about?”
His tone was all business, like he hadn’t just been breathing down her shirt. “Nope. That’s it.”
“We should get out of here. I’ll go first. Meet me on the front steps, and I’ll take you to Clint and Ivy.”
“Why can’t we leave together?”
“Some students use the study cubicles to hook up. If people see us leaving together, they’ll assume you’ve fallen victim to my charm.” He wiggled his eyebrows.
“Are you sure you’re not related to Clint?”
He laughed and walked out the door. Bryn recited the alphabet in her head and then left. She made it to the front steps of the library without incident.
Zavien was nowhere in sight.
My truths: You can never have too many books, shoes, or purses.
Coffee is the Elixir of Life.
There should be a National Nerf Bat Day where you are allowed to whack annoying people upside the head.