When Anya Cabrera, a Voodoo Houngan in San Valencez California’s Barrio, tampers with the ceremony that draws the Loa to possess the faithful, Donovan DeChance, book collector, mage, and private investigator is contacted immediately. Donovan helps to maintain the balance of supernatural forces in the city – and that balance is in serious danger.
The Dragons, a local motorcycle gang, live under a shaky truce with a neighboring Hispanic gang, Los Escorpiones, who are now aligned with Anya. The two groups face off in a battle that becomes more than the Dragons expected. Los Escorpiones are faster than they should be, and stronger. When they are stabbed, or shot – they get back up and keep on fighting.
Old Martinez, a local sorcerer and medicine man who has helped maintain peace in the Barrio for longer than anyone else can remember stands with The Dragons. A young man he has been slowly mentoring, Salvatore Domingo Sanchez, joins him. Salvatore, is an artist, and he dreams of dragons. When Salvatore begins to paint the dragons from his dreams on the leather jackets of the Dragons of the Barrio, the balance begins to shift.
Can Donovan, his lover and partner Amethyst, Martinez and Salvatore find a way to stop Anya Cabrera from unleashing a demon army on San Valencez – or will their efforts release an even greater danger into the city? Heart of a Dragon is the story of an artist, ancient evil, dragons, voodoo and men. It is a story of courage, brotherhood, and other worlds. It is the first sequential novel of The DeChance Chronicles…watch for further volumes in the near future.
©2011 David Niall Wilson (P)2011 CrossRoad Press
This is a really appealing urban fantasy story with some great original themes (especially around the overlap between colour, art, and spirit). If you like the idea of Buffy, or the Dresden Files where apparently ordinary humans turn out to have hidden talents and fight paranormal evil while exercising a nice line in witty repartee, then you'll enjoy this. As I did. Rival gangs, animal spirits, zombies, voodoo, dragons and all kinds of magic infuse this story, and Donovan de Chance is a thoroughly enjoyable hero with a D&D-esque bag of tricks and a library Giles might envy. So a lot of fun to be had here!
The only sour note, for me, came in the sort of scene I've not read much since Dennis Wheatley which involves a female character having her clothes torn off in an assault and the hero stopping, literally, to smirk and enjoy it. It was a weirdly misogynist moment and threw me out of a story I had been enjoying and a protagonist I was beginning to like a lot. I liked him a lot less after that bit of creepishness.
But that was one moment, and there really was a lot to enjoy here. This is the first in a series, so I'm very willing to give Donovan another (de) Chance - especially if his mysterious cat Cleo, feisty sidekick Amythest and talented young artist Salvatore make more appearances.
Narrator Corey Snow is very good, tackling a variety of accents, ages and genders convincingly and with good differentiation. I will be looking for more of his work.
Disclaimer: I received this audiobook free for review purposes. My opinions are my own and independent.
David Niall Wilson's writing can sometimes be like poetry. And, like poetry, it is easy to get lost in the words and not pay attention to their meaning. This book starts with that style, but quickly goes into a more regular form of story-telling.
This book/series is an urban-fantasy series (like the Dresden Files, Anita Blake, etc...).
Much of this book is located in a Latino barrio. The narrator of the audiobook sometimes mispronounces how the characters would actually pronounce things, but that is forgivable.
Books in this series
1) Heart of a Dragon (which came out after the first couple books...a prequel)
2) Vintage Soul
3) My Soul to Keep & Others
4) Kali's Tale
(Wilson's NEVERMORE also has a link. DeChance mentions that he met Poe in KALI'S TALE, which birthed the need for Wilson to write NEVERMORE according to Wilson's website.)
This is a book not dissimilar to Dresden Files (admittedly I'm not a fan of the first book of Dresden either), or even Monster Hunter International. Our normal world, but monsters are real and there are a few people hiding in the shadows who know about them and try stop them from ruining things. It just isnt told as well as any of those other books.
The story follows several separate characters, which may have been the problem. It's not a long book thus to split to between 4 characters (Martinez, Sal, Anya and Donovan) meant that we didnt really get to know any of them too well. It would have been better to chose one or two and focus on them and let us know about the others through them. The way it is done there is not enough time spent with each and it dilutes the impact from any of them.
I ended this book with a big load of "who cares". I just didn't feel like I knew any of the characters or really cared about their predicaments.
It's probably actually a 2.5 / 5 from me...
Narration: 3.5 / 5, but gets rounded to a 4. Yay for Corey Snow
Snow does well, providing a variety of voices and accents for characters across a range of ages and gender. Occasionally the pace or inflection sounded off, or a voice sounded so close to the general narration that it was hard to notice the changem but generally it was good. I certainly wouldn't hesitate to pick something up that he had narrated.
When I first got this title, I didn't quite know what to think. I know David Niall Wilson mostly from his horror titles (which are quite good) so I was thinking, with voodoo in the description, it might be more of the same. I was pleasantly surprised to hear how different this was - think like Harry Dresden but with a more serious tone. The characters were enjoyable, the dialogue was good, and the descriptions drew you into the story. The narration is good - not distracting and doing a good job of differentiating the many characters. Overall I would highly recommend this title.
Heart of a Dragon is the first book of The DeChance Chronicles. It is not your typical dragon story. It centers on private investigator Donovan DeChance who collects ancient manuscripts and books. Donovan gets involved in a turf war between a Latin motorcycle gang, known as “The Dragons,” and a Latin street gang that is infested by evil spirits, known as “Los Escorpiones.” If Donovan does not stop the war, the city will be destroyed. He elicits the assistance of a boy who can open portals to other worlds, including those with dragons.
Corey Snow's narration was excellent. He had good pace, inflections, and a deep rich tone. I also liked the differing voices, not only between the genders, but the generations as well. Much of David Niall Wilson’s writing is lyrical, which makes listening to the audio that much more enjoyable.
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