Inverarity (inverarity) wrote,

Book Review: Chasing the Dragon, by Nicholas Kaufmann

Georgia the dragonslayer is a gritty fantasy noir heroine.

ChiZine Publications, 2010, 134 pages

Centuries ago, St. George fought and killed a dragon-or so the legend goes.

The truth is somewhat different.

George failed in his mission, and the Dragon still walks the Earth, protected by an undead army, hiding in the shadows and slaughtering men, women, and children for its prey. Each of George's descendants through time has been tasked with killing the Dragon, and each has failed.

Twenty-five-year-old Georgia Quincey is the last of the line-the last, best hope for defeating the Dragon once and for all. But Georgia is also an addict, driven to the warm embrace of the needle by the weight of her responsibility and the loss of everything and everyone she has ever loved.

Tracking her nemesis to the small town of Buckshot, New Mexico for their final showdown, Georgia is about to discover the truth about the Dragon, a terrible secret that could put all life on Earth in peril.

Once upon a time, "urban fantasy" meant "fantasy in an urban setting"; nowadays it usually means "Paranormal Romance," a genre which almost without exception sucks ass, being preoccupied with heroines whose epic quests against terrible evils are merely a preamble for their real purpose in life, which is to fall into bed with one or more bad boys with pretty hair.

Chasing the Dragon's heroine doesn't fall into bed with anyone, though she did have a boyfriend, once, a fellow junkie who the monster killed. Georgia is the last in a line of dragonslayers. Her family has been hunting the Dragon for centuries. The Dragon is an existential evil, the reincarnation of Fafnir, Jörmungandr, Tiamat, and every other Beast. It's a nasty, evil critter that revels in butchering and eating humans. It can also animate and control the corpses of its victims. After it slaughtered Georgia's parents, she abandoned her quest and took refuge in drugs instead.

Georgia has been forced to take up the sword again (actually, a shotgun), but when she's not chasing the Dragon, she's chasing the dragon, jonesing for a fix. Georgia is a heroin addict. Chasing the Dragon's drug scenes are nearly as gruesome as the action-packed bloodbaths.

I enjoyed this short book (really, a novella) for the gritty, violent heroine, the unambiguously evil (but chatty) monster, and the fast-paced action. There is much bloodshed and gore, and no romance. Life is good.

The only flaw was the fight scenes, which were exciting but bordered on silly as Georgia was swarmed by undead in small, enclosed spaces over and over again yet was able to take them on one at a time and pull off Laura Croft-style maneuvers, until I could practically see the health status and ammo bars flashing at the bottom of the screen. There were a few other improbable elements that stretched my suspension of disbelief, but no worse than most contemporary fantasies. The heroin addiction was a significant plot point, rather than just a pun in the title and an extra burden on the heroine.

A great story that was like one of those SyFy Channel Saturday night monster movies, a guilty pleasure perhaps, but awesome toothy fun.

Verdict: A short novella in the bad-ass chicks in tight pants genre, but it's as much horror as fantasy, and the only boyfriend gets ate in a flashback. No romance, just action, mayhem, and monsters. Not an epic story, but a good read.
Tags: books, fantasy, horror, reviews

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