Picture the world, but with dragons. This is what Patrick Ness asks us to do in Burn.
In one, stimulating, novel Ness makes us fall in love with his depiction of the world, including Dragons.
Burn, based in 1957 America, is our world, our history, but with the inclusion of dragons. Ness brings to us a world in which dragons aren't myth, aren't hidden in secret caves or disguised in the hidden depths of cloudy mountains, but part of everyday culture.
Ness asks how mankind would react to a world in which we are not the most intelligent, powerful species. In which we must work side-by-side with creatures who could destroy the world. He asks how human inequalities of racism would effect our relationship with dragons. How dragons of different cultures would be with one another. What happens when, in a human war, one side has dragons? or both? or neither? What happens when parts of the world are owned by a different species? Would there be humans who aligned themselves more with dragons than other humans? Would there be dragons who felt the same about humans?
What began as a simple imagining, one in fact that has been explored by many authors over the years, becomes an in-depth surprising study of human nature and history.
Ness explores all of these questions and more. His natural flare for weaving creative, imaginative, story-lines with real world issues and history coming to the forefront in this unmissable novel.
Every character in Burn, whether they be dragon or human, is believable. They draw you into their complex world and introduce you to all of it's twists and turns with delicate subtlety. As the story unfolds we learn that this is a lot more than just a question of what the world would be like with dragons but a question of why are there dragons in this world, and why aren't there any in our own?
'"On a cold Sunday evening in early 1957, Sarah Dewhurst waited with her father in the parking lot of the Chevron gas station for the dragon he'd hired to help on the farm."
'This dragon, Kazimir, has more to him than meets the eye. Sarah can't help but be curious about him, an animal who supposedly doesn't have a soul but is seemingly intent on keeping her safe from the brutal attentions of Deputy Sheriff Emmett Kelby.
'Kazimir knows something she doesn't. He has arrived at the farm because of a prophecy. A prophecy that involves a deadly assassin, a cult of dragon worshipers, two FBI agents, and somehow, Sarah Dewhurst herself.'
As ever Ness enthralls us with his writing. Leaving us desperate to find out what will happen next and hopeful for a sequel to Burn soon.
We give Burn Five Stars.
ISBN - 978-1-4063-7550-3
Hardback cover price - £12.99