Title: Dragons Don’t Eat Meat (Valkyrie Bestiary Book One)
Publisher: WrongTree Press
Author: Kim McDougall
Price: $12.95 / $3.99
Kyra Greene is a Valkyrie. She is also an animal lover. Self-exiled from Asgard, she has made a home for herself in the safe zone of Montreal. There she runs a supernatural animal relocation business. Got a basilisk in your backyard? No problem. Kyra will capture it and safely release it back into the wild …. Which is exactly what she’s doing when she stumbles across a herd of enslaved dragons. Determined to free the creatures, Kyra finds herself drawn into a conspiracy involving the fae, vampires, wizards — and a plot to destroy all of Montreal ….
I have a particular affinity for stories that take place in a “post-collapse/magic has returned to the world” setting. See, for example, The Witchkin Murders by Diana Pharaoh Francis and the Down and Dirty Supernatural Cleaning Services series by the writing team of Quinn, Lunetta, and Lynn. Dragons Don’t Eat Meat is a solid example of the sub-genre, with a rich cast of mythological creatures and some nice twists of its own.
For instance, the return of magic was triggered by human-induced climate change. The earth woke up, the land became semi-sentient, and ley-lines swelled in size and power. The little magic that had been practiced by witches and others suddenly became big magic. The Gods, of course, had always been around. Kyra’s grandmother was a mortal loved by Baldyr, and her father was a dryad; her weird magic and seeming immortality come from both sides of the family. Nymphs, too, have always been around, though in hiding; peaceful, herbivorous sprites like her father, and the more war-like and aggressive oreads.
And then there’s Mason. Once a mortal human who practiced magic, he was cursed by a witch during the Renaissance. Now he is a gargoyle, forced to turn to stone with the rising of the sun. A self-appointed guardian of Montreal, he is the only person who has connections outside the city that Kyra needs to track and free the dragons.
Oddly enough, I found their relationship to be one of the weak points of the story. Kyra is an awesome character, and I love the menagerie she has collected as a result of her work. And the world-building is terrific; McDougall really went into detail exploring how humanity adjusted to the new world and its (new) supernatural residents. But I never felt the spark of attraction between Kyra and Mason that McDougall was going for; Kyra lusted after him, his feelings were unclear, and I was left floundering. (The other weak point is the first person narration. Since the entire story is told from Kyra’s point of view, we have no insight into other characters’ thoughts or motivations; and we miss chunks of the story that take place away from Kyra.)
Overall, I quite enjoyed Dragons Don’t Eat Meat. The world-building is compelling, the protagonist is sympathetic, and the villain is a truly awful person who gets exactly what they deserve. I look forward to reading the next book in the series.
Recommended to fans of the series noted above, as well as Lindsey Buroker’s Death Before Dragons and the Hidden Legacy series by Ilona Andrews.
[Reviewed by Rebecca Buchanan.]