Book Review: Resa Nelson’s Dragonfly

Dragonfly (Dragonfly #1)

A Viking girl raised among Native Americans must overcome her desire to have a family of her own in order to fulfill her destiny.
Greeta has known all her life that she is different. Her pale skin, blue eyes and blonde hair sets her apart from her darker skinned people, the Shining Star Nation. Then one day a series of events change her life. First, she sees a square sail on the horizon, then catches Wapiti, her childhood companion and love, talking disparagingly about her, and that there is a secret that her family has kept from her and finally, a strange shaman called Shadow has come to claim her. Suddenly she feels unwelcome in her village and accepts the Shaman’s offer to show her how to Dreamwalk, hoping that it will help her achieve what she wants most in life, to have a family of her own. But things don’t always go to plan, and soon Greeta finds herself lost and alone in unfamiliar lands.

Greeta, short for Margareeta and also known as Dragonfly amongst the Shining Star Nation, is the main character and perhaps the only one that is fleshed out properly in this story. Greeta comes across as being very naive and unrelentingly fixated on getting married and having children. This is perhaps because she has grown up in a village were that is all that is expected of its women, despite her mother having been a blacksmith and/or warrior. Other characters include her father, uncle and aunt, who are portrayed as being overly protective and loving, but not much else. Shadow the Shaman seems interesting to start off with, but then has very little exposure in the plot. In fact, the only other major character seems to be Fenhurst, another Northerner who has come to the Americas, looking to establish himself.
What drew me to the novel is its setting. There aren’t that many Native American fantasy stories in circulation (or I’ve just not come across them). I thought this would be something like Pathfinder or even Pocahontas, but this was not the case. The plot instead revolves around Greeta being exposed to the bigger world and coming into her own, which involves Dragons at some point. My major bugbear with this book is the way that significant plot moments are occasionally glossed over or rushed, leaving a sense of dissatisfaction behind.
This book could have been much better if the author had taken the time and care to explore the characters a little more and milk the high drama moments to best affect. As it stands, Dragonfly is a pleasant read but needs to be stronger to draw me back in to read the books that have preceded it and the ones that will likely follow.

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