released 24 JaNUary 404 pages | Paperback/ebook
Author Peter Higgins Publisher Gollancz
it’s the end of the world in Peter Higgins’s Dragon Heart, the story of a desperate attempt to outrun Armageddon. His protagonists are Castrel, a hedge-witch and healer, and her husband Shay, a former shipbuilder. Their quiet rural idyll is rudely disrupted by a tide of chaos sweeping slowly but inexorably from the north, heralded by the appearance of inhuman riders who leave slaughter in their wake. So the couple flees south, encumbered first by Castrel’s pregnancy and then by their new-born child.
Higgins’ prose tends towards the florid, and he paints vivid pictures in the tumble of words. It’s an interesting conceit to build a story around protagonists who have little understanding of the events they’re witnessing and no grand feats of heroism, but what makes the book hard going is the relentless pall of misery constantly hanging over Shay and Castrel. Their flight is a long inventory of despair and decay, punctuated by bursts of terror whenever the forces of destruction threaten to overtake them. There are occasional brief moments of respite, but it’s wearying to walk under a dark, dreary cloud for so long. Too much of the dialogue is repetitive – the couple ceaselessly declare their devotion to each other – and the plotting relies excessively on coincidence to move forward. Draining. David West