Reviews for Handbook for Dragon Slayers

Booklist Reviews 2013 August #1
Wicked cousin Ivo imprisons 13-year-old Princess Tilda and plots to seize her family's estate and castle. Tilda is secretly relieved to avoid returning home, where many of the superstitious locals fear her because she was born with a pigeon-toed and twisted foot. Escaping Ivo's clutches, Tilda flees with two young friends. They are determined to find dragons and succeed beyond their expectations. After adventures involving magical horses as well as dragons, Tilda discovers that she cares about her home and her people more deeply than she knew. This accessible medieval fantasy features three likable young people, several imaginatively depicted magical animals, and a couple of dastardly villains. A surprising transformation scene provides Tilda with a new point of view and a catalyst for her change of heart. As in Haskell's The Princess Curse (2011), elements from European fairy tales inspire parts of the plot. This engaging fantasy traces the adventures of a bookish but brave heroine. Copyright 2013 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2013 Fall
When kidnapped Princess Matilda is rescued by her maidservant and the handsome Parzival, the three set off to slay a dragon. Their first attempt is a disaster; future excursions start to give them a more nuanced view of the dangerous beasts. Taking Arthurian legends as her conventions, Haskell imparts medieval flavor through setting and attitude alone, keeping the language refreshingly light and modern.

Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2013 #4
With her lame foot, Princess Matilda likes nothing better than sitting and copying books -- preferably in a nice scriptorium, where there aren't endless interruptions. So when her cousin Ivo kidnaps her in order to seize control of her family's land, her rescue at the hands of the handsome Parzival and her maidservant Judith is the perfect excuse to head for the nearest cloister. But Parz, who was dismissed in disgrace from his training with Sir Kunibert, wants to slay a dragon first to restore his place and reputation; tomboy Judith agrees; and Matilda is taken with the idea of writing a Handbook for Dragon Slayers. Their first attempt at dragon-slaying is a disaster. Future excursions start to give the adventurers a more nuanced view of the dangerous beasts, even as events tumble the threesome, sometimes humorously, sometimes grimly, toward older-but-wiser status. Taking Arthurian legends as her conventions, Haskell imparts medieval flavor through setting and attitude alone, keeping the language refreshingly light and modern. A haphazard, almost accidental progression of episodes builds smoothly to a lively and cohesive plot arc that will keep readers enthralled, particularly as Matilda transforms from passive copyist to active writer and leader -- and in the process refashioning her handbook into one for dragon protectors. anita l. burkam

Kirkus Reviews 2013 March #2
A delightful middle-grade fantasy falters only in its excess of exuberance. Matilda, the 13-year-old princess of a tiny medieval fiefdom, has been lame since birth; consequently, her people consider her "cursed" and fear she will remain unwed. Tilda refuses to show any hurt; after all, she'd rather retire to a convent and write great treatises anyway. But when her only friends, her handmaid Judith and the disgraced squire Parzifal, rescue her from a kidnapping plot, Tilda decides that, rather than return home, the trio should instead begin researching her first work: a Handbook for Dragon Slayers. Dragons, however, prove to be the least of the perils ahead of her….Haskell's sophomore outing is another clever, witty and empowering tale, fluently melding historical fact and legendary material. Tilda is a splendid heroine: Wry, intelligent, sensitive and stronger than she thinks, she conceals her pain behind icy stoicism and discounts her courage and compassion as foolishness. Judith and Parz seem to be charming and supportive companions, although readers scarcely get to know them. There are simply too many intriguing characters and too many dramatic encounters for any to be explored satisfactorily. Tilda is held prisoner no less than three different times, and she faces down supernatural threats, from dragons to the Wild Hunt to an evil sorcerer, all on the way to an epiphany that completely alters her self-perception and goals. While suffering from a surfeit of events and ideas, still a truly terrific read. (Historical fantasy. 10-14) Copyright Kirkus 2013 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

School Library Journal Reviews 2013 December

Gr 6-8--In this entertaining fantasy, 13-year-old Princess Matilda of Alder Brook yearns to abandon her royal responsibilities and run away to copy books in a cloister scriptorium or, even better, write a book of her own. Tilda never imagines how prophetic this is until she is taken hostage by her evil cousin Ivo, who is intent on wresting ownership of her castle away from her for himself. He believes it will be easy to take control of her principality because Tilda was born with a crippled foot and everyone believes she is cursed. He convinces her that no one in Alder Brook wants her as their princess. Secretly, Tilda is relieved because now she is free of her obligations and can make her own choices. With the help of Parzival, 14, a failed squire, and Judith, her loyal handmaiden, Tilda escapes, and they embark on a quest to slay dragons. During their adventures, the friends are captured and placed under a spell by a Bluebeard-like Lord who has buried seven wives and intends for Tilda to be his eighth. This fast-paced tale celebrates courage and perseverance. It refreshingly portrays Tilda as strong and intelligent yet flawed as she is forced to acknowledge her shortcomings and learn from her mistakes. Fans of Gail Carson Levine or Shannon Hale will be enchanted.--Sharon Rawlins, New Jersey State Library, Trenton

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