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Reviewed by A. L. Peevey for Readers' Favorite
Beritru the Brutal is the most powerful dragon in the land in The Afternoon King by Rebecca Creos. No other inferno dragon is as strong as she is or has such a vicious reputation as she does. Then, despite the strong advice of Arvul, the fox guardian of the woods where Beritu lives, the dragon sets out to destroy the closest and newest human town. But, when a single yet determined knight comes to do battle with her, Beritru suddenly faces her own vulnerability and has to come to terms with it. Like all dragons, Beritru is long-lived, so many years later she finally gets the opportunity to make up for her past attacks on humans. She meets Vonrael, a boy, and begins to train him in the use of a powerful and deadly weapon; fire magic. But, with war spreading across the land, will Beritru be able to teach Vonrael enough to make a difference, and can young Vonrael help to end the war?
The Afternoon King by Rebecca Creos has some of the common themes and stock characters of fantasy. Yet, Beritru is different from most dragons we read about in other fantasy books. She struggles to overcome her reputation and nature and, indeed, has an original personality in that she wants to embrace a change in herself. I enjoyed this book and loved the original twist in that the dragon wants to atone for her wrongs against humanity. Vonrael is like most of us, unsure and struggling to overcome his doubts and weaknesses. The author writes in a very straightforward and conversational way, so readers do not get bogged down in stilted prose. Readers also learn that in writing, the author is coming to terms with the tragedy in her own life, so it is a thoughtful yet enjoyable story.