Here Be Dragons

A Tale of Mortals, Myths and Mystery

Fiction - Mystery - General
248 Pages
Reviewed on 09/06/2013
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite

Anne Wilson's psychological thriller, Here Be Dragons, is aptly subtitled A Tale of Mortals, Myths and Mystery. Anna has thrown caution to the wind and decided to leave her teaching position in England to live in her family's summer flat in sunny Mallorca. She has already published a children's book and hopes to make her living continuing to do so. Her newest book stars a dragon and his princely companion. Anna's apartment is particularly hot and steamy in the humid Mallorca summer, and she spends hours typing out her notes on her laptop in the local coffee bar. One day, Anna sits down at a table near an older, but intriguing, gentleman. His name is Nils: he's a Danish ex-farmer who co-owns a restaurant and lives in a cave high over the city and the bay. Anna has had trouble picturing her dragon's cave in her mind and thinks visiting Nils' cave might solve her problem. She's drawn to the enigmatic and powerful man, but there's something not quite right. First, there's the locked room behind the bathroom and then there's the fact that Nils, who is very set in his ways, is slowly distancing Anna from her friends on the island.

Once I opened Anne Wilson's Here Be Dragons, I found myself enchanted by the dreamy, otherworldly environment of Mallorca in the summer. Anna and her fellow ex-pats live on a fairy-tale island, albeit a hot and humid one, surrounded by water and the exotic. Nils is courtly, virile, and absolutely terrifying, and Anna, while attracted to him, unconsciously casts him as the cave-living dragon in her story -- not the handsome prince as Nils suggests. Wilson's familiarity with Mallorca and its residents makes the island come alive in the reader's imagination and there are moments, like the Baha'i meeting, that really resonate. Best of all, interspersed throughout Here Be Dragons is some of the most lovely and lyrical nature writing I've encountered in some time. Anne Wilson's Here Be Dragons is complex but never complicated. There's a satisfying mystery to solve, an engaging heroine to follow and marvelous, lyrical prose in which to indulge.

Tania Staley

Anne Wilson’s novel, Here Be Dragons, is a tale that defies the boundaries of genre labels. Classified by the author as a mystery, this book is also fantasy, drama, and a romance. Wilson warns readers from the beginning that “Just because you can’t see them doesn’t mean they’re not there.” While her message does not clarify who the “them” is, her warning should be heeded. There is much going on beneath the surface of this tale. Anna, the protagonist, is an ex-teacher and successful children’s writer living in Palma. Her book series centers around a dragon and the adventures he gets into to protect the kingdom. Little does Anna know that her fairy tales may be more real than she ever could have imagined.

Hoping to create a happily-ever-after for herself, Anna catches the interest of Nils, the mysterious and handsome Danish man who frequents her favorite coffee shop. Her efforts are rewarded, and she soon finds herself swept into a whirlwind romance. Though the passion is there, Anna knows little about her new fling. She loves his fantastical home, a cave that has been renovated into a luxurious home, the perfect inspiration for her last dragon tale. But what is he hiding in the locked storage room in the caverns of the house? Are those bats that she’s heard scratching, or is there something else lurking in the dark?

Here Be Dragons was an enjoyable read, and the hint of fantasy within was a fresh take on the mystery genre. Wilson’s ability to create palpable settings is to be admired. As I was reading, I could feel the heat of Palma, taste the Danish cuisine Nils cooked, and walk through the darkened corners of their cave-house. My only concern was that the romance between Nils and Anna felt a bit forced. Nils’ gruff and demanding demeanor seemed to clash with Anna’s adventurous and laid-back personality. However, this could easily be put aside by acknowledging that often opposites attract, and the intrigue of Wilson’s story carried it along. I recommend Anne Wilson’s Here Be Dragons to anyone looking for a good mystery with a unique twist.

Kayti Nika Raet

A mix of mystery, fantasy and romance. Here Be Dragons by Anne Wilson is set on a lush Spanish island. English ex-pat and children’s author Anna meets Nils Christiansen, a Danish man with a mysterious past. Despite their differences an attraction quickly develops and they’re soon living together. Little do they know that they are being manipulated by unseen forces.

Plot-wise, Here Be Dragons was very good. I loved the slow build-up of tension and how things almost became claustrophobic as Anna's friends were slowly whittled away, one by one, leaving her more vulnerable to whatever disaster lay ahead. As for Nils' character, I was a little confused as to whether readers were supposed to view him as a bad guy or good guy. On one hand he's obviously the love of her life and cares very deeply about her, but on the other he's extremely prejudiced (especially given the fact that he's living in a foreign country) and a bit controlling. So when he tells Anna to stop seeing one of her Arab friends because he deals in the black market, you have to wonder if he's genuinely concerned or if it was just a convenient lie.

In fact, a lot about Nils' character remained ambiguous till the end, which I kept going over in my head long after the last page was turned. Otherwise, an excellent read.