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The Dubious Gift of Dragon Blood

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High schooler Crispin Haugen already has so many identities to sort through—Asian, Scandinavian, not to mention gay. Then a messenger from another world arrives to tell him he also carries the blood of dragons in his veins. Transported to the Realm of Fire, where dragons and humans live in harmony, Crispin falls for Davix, a brooding, nerdy scholar. But dark mysteries threa High schooler Crispin Haugen already has so many identities to sort through—Asian, Scandinavian, not to mention gay. Then a messenger from another world arrives to tell him he also carries the blood of dragons in his veins. Transported to the Realm of Fire, where dragons and humans live in harmony, Crispin falls for Davix, a brooding, nerdy scholar. But dark mysteries threaten the peace of Crispin’s new world. Without warning, dragons from the Realm of Air unleash a bloody war. With everything he cares about on the line, Crispin must find the courage to fight...for justice and for love.


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High schooler Crispin Haugen already has so many identities to sort through—Asian, Scandinavian, not to mention gay. Then a messenger from another world arrives to tell him he also carries the blood of dragons in his veins. Transported to the Realm of Fire, where dragons and humans live in harmony, Crispin falls for Davix, a brooding, nerdy scholar. But dark mysteries threa High schooler Crispin Haugen already has so many identities to sort through—Asian, Scandinavian, not to mention gay. Then a messenger from another world arrives to tell him he also carries the blood of dragons in his veins. Transported to the Realm of Fire, where dragons and humans live in harmony, Crispin falls for Davix, a brooding, nerdy scholar. But dark mysteries threaten the peace of Crispin’s new world. Without warning, dragons from the Realm of Air unleash a bloody war. With everything he cares about on the line, Crispin must find the courage to fight...for justice and for love.

40 review for The Dubious Gift of Dragon Blood

  1. 4 out of 5

    mwana

    This book... This book has me befuddled. The saying is true folks. Never judge a book by its cover. Or its snappy title. As always, I went into it having no clue what it was about so judging from the YA contemporary cliches I was subjected to in the first couple of chapters, I thought I'd be getting a low fantasy about an awkward teenage boy navigating a magical heritage and high school. That's not what it was. Soon after, Crispin discovers that his blood is special. "Yer a dragon Crispin". Addit This book... This book has me befuddled. The saying is true folks. Never judge a book by its cover. Or its snappy title. As always, I went into it having no clue what it was about so judging from the YA contemporary cliches I was subjected to in the first couple of chapters, I thought I'd be getting a low fantasy about an awkward teenage boy navigating a magical heritage and high school. That's not what it was. Soon after, Crispin discovers that his blood is special. "Yer a dragon Crispin". Additionally, this couldn't have come at a more opportune moment since Crispin had just been outed at school and he didn't want to deal with the fallout from the dramatic way it happened. It involved dirty poetry. Having gotten the chance to get away from it all, Crispin runs off to the dragon world chaperons where he has to layabout in a hotel instead of delving into his new heritage because again, that's not what this was. Because this book suffers from an identity crisis, not one but two murders happen at the hands on an intruder. With chapters inspired from Agatha Christie practice stories, this intruder too got his own pov chapters as he contemplated and carried out his dastardly crimes. So I then wondered whether, along with Crispin figuring out what his dragon blood is supposed to do, a murder mystery is afoot. But that's not what this was. Crispin, in his new world, still reeling from the events that had unfolded back home locks eyes with teenage zealot Davix and so I again wondered if this was a YA gay fantasy. Nope. Because there are prophecies, fog, religion, heresy, meteorology and a dragon, yes this time a real dragon, who only spoke fluent poem. Seriously, it's even stylized like this: LIKE LIFE ITSELF/THE FOXES LOVE TO BE LOVED/UNTIL THEY DON'T/AND YOU TUMBLE INTO THE BLACK EMBRACE/OF INCONSOLABLE ETERNITY. That got old fast. And no don't expect this to be poetry because that's not what this book was. This book was a mix of sci fi, fantasy, young adult contemporary. I wish it had the guts to pick a genre and run with it. The story was also poorly paced and couldn't figure out what the most important thing about it was. They could just call it How to Bang A Dragon and Do War. Did I hate it? I don't know. Did I love it? I most certainly didn't. Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Veronica of V's Reads

    3.5 Stars Crispin is a high school senior and out to his friends, but not his parents, and he's secretly hooking up with his long-time friend, who happens to be dating the coolest girl in school. Crispin thinks he's falling hard for his buddy, but he's clearly not comfortable or interested in coming out--or even reciprocating. Crispin is stunned to learn that he is one of 20 beings on Earth who hold the sacred Copper blood of dragons. That there are realms of beings beyond Earth where dragons and 3.5 Stars Crispin is a high school senior and out to his friends, but not his parents, and he's secretly hooking up with his long-time friend, who happens to be dating the coolest girl in school. Crispin thinks he's falling hard for his buddy, but he's clearly not comfortable or interested in coming out--or even reciprocating. Crispin is stunned to learn that he is one of 20 beings on Earth who hold the sacred Copper blood of dragons. That there are realms of beings beyond Earth where dragons and magic exists. It's overwhelming, but it's also and unexpected escape hatch when his personal life explodes in spectacularly embarrassing fashion. The Realm of Fire is a very different experience filled with pomp and etiquette that is unfamiliar. The People of this realm had been hand-picked and curated by the Five dragons that remain in the Realm. There are also dragons in the Realm of Air and the Realm of Water, but there are few connections between the Realms--especially on account of battles between these realms. In the Realm of Fire, Crispin is meant to be the stud to the Queen of the dragons, and he's not sure how he will be able to do this...being an avowed gay person. And, he's definitely interested in males. He's so into Davix, an Atmospherics apprentice who is linked into some intrigue that might reveal a significant threat to the Dragons and life in the Realm. This is a carefully constructed fantasy, with intense world building and unique situations and language creation. Crispin's adventure truly schools him into maturity, taking on the mantle of pseudo-power that stems from his position as the Dragon Groom, fighting the tyranny of zealots in the Realm who eschew any growth in their religion. There is interesting technology, and the sense that the dragons serve as somewhat disconnected god-custodians who have interesting and unique gifts and roles. The People are not allowed to copulate to produce more offspring than their world can sustain, and it's very common for same-sex "fleshmates" to provide comfort and sexual release for their friends who are not currently paired. There is community rearing of the young People, which allows for allegiance to be built to the Dragons rather than family groups, which was really interesting to me--and Crispin. It's a bit of an epic, with battles and intrigue and love growing between Crispin and Davix, even while each is struggling to NOT be banished from the Realm. Davis loves the dragons of the Fire Realm, but in order to save them he makes an unforgivable choice, one that could cost his life. And Crispin's solution is immediate, but less well thought out than it needed to be. Be ready to tuck into this one over the course of some days as it's long. And, though the story resolves it's not the end of the mayhem. Expect all sorts of magical and fantastical beasts, battles, unexpected double-crosses, chimeric beasts and prophesy that put both Crispin and Davix in the crosshairs of fate for their respective Realms. I liked it, and would recommend this book for readers who enjoy high fantasy, YA with super LGBTQ-friendly themes and representation, and a plethora of hyphens, because this book might could have the World's Record on those.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Nile

    Full disclosure, I didn't finish reading this book so it's possible that it picked up. I wish there was something between "did not like" and "it was okay." The first book in a series is always going to be challenging because you have a lot of world building to do while also advancing story and plot but I found there were too many scenes that were almost exclusively dedicated to world building that could have been cut for scenes that advanced the story or plot (e.g. there's a scene where the prota Full disclosure, I didn't finish reading this book so it's possible that it picked up. I wish there was something between "did not like" and "it was okay." The first book in a series is always going to be challenging because you have a lot of world building to do while also advancing story and plot but I found there were too many scenes that were almost exclusively dedicated to world building that could have been cut for scenes that advanced the story or plot (e.g. there's a scene where the protagonist goes to learn dinner etiquette which felt superfluous to me). I also found it odd that the protagonist Crispin found himself transported to a new world and spent more time (literally almost all of his time) mooning over a cute boy he'd met than thinking about his parents and how his sudden disappearance might be affecting them. It seemed odd to me. Weirdly, I also thought the story Crispin had going before he left earth was way more interesting than the one he ended up in. He'd had a disastrous day at school and I was way more engaged in finding out what happened after that. The other thing that I found a bit... well, dubious, is Crispin's racial background. He's biracial (Scandinavian (?) and Filipino I believe but I might not be remembering that correctly). Freeman has some great observations about what it's like to be a young gay man but he himself is not Asian so he can't speak to what it's like to be a gay POC which makes me wonder what the thought process behind that decision to make Crispin biracial was. I hope I'm missing some information and it's not a cynical attempt to make the book more marketable.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Alex

    Thanks to the publisher for providing an eARC of The Dubious Gift of Dragon Blood in exchange for an honest review. I read an ecopy of this so I'm not sure how long the actual page count is going to be, but this book felt way longer than it had to be and it made it really hard to stay focused on the story. This is really your standard "high schooler who feels like an outsider finds a new purpose in a secret magical world" (although that purpose is slightly more mature considering Crispin's chosen Thanks to the publisher for providing an eARC of The Dubious Gift of Dragon Blood in exchange for an honest review. I read an ecopy of this so I'm not sure how long the actual page count is going to be, but this book felt way longer than it had to be and it made it really hard to stay focused on the story. This is really your standard "high schooler who feels like an outsider finds a new purpose in a secret magical world" (although that purpose is slightly more mature considering Crispin's chosen one destiny is to mate with a dragon), but it spends so much time exploring the world before introducing the main intrigue in its final section that I got really bored. You'd think that time was being used to build up Crispin's relationship with Davix since the description makes it sound like the romance is a huge aspect of this and while I guess technically it is plotwise, it also manages to be incredibly instalove-y despite the amount of time Crispin and Davix spend talking about pretty much nothing. Were this more concise and fast-paced, I think this may have been a very fun read but as is, I didn't really enjoy this one.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Two Nerds With Words

    The Dubious Gift of Dragon Blood is a YA fantasy. There's a little bit of everything between its pages as far as themes and tropes go. Crispin had a strong voice and was a likable character. While it was fun following his journey of self-discovery, intermingled with a mystery thread in this fantasy world, the pace was a little slow going at times. There's some sweetness to the romance and some thought-provoking moments, just like there are moments of action and interesting developed subplots. An The Dubious Gift of Dragon Blood is a YA fantasy. There's a little bit of everything between its pages as far as themes and tropes go. Crispin had a strong voice and was a likable character. While it was fun following his journey of self-discovery, intermingled with a mystery thread in this fantasy world, the pace was a little slow going at times. There's some sweetness to the romance and some thought-provoking moments, just like there are moments of action and interesting developed subplots. An entertaining read once you're able to navigate through the abundance of subgenres and themes at play.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Rafael Rodriguez

    Just Wanted to thank netgalley for allowing me to review The book and giving me the eARC to read. It was an interesting adventure follow crispin in his self discovery he is a very likeable and relatable character i did feel for him seeing how his relationships with different characters were. It was interesting to watch it all develop through out the book i did however feel like the book was rushed and a lot of the pacing was thrown off, I do feel the book could of been a lot better and benefit f Just Wanted to thank netgalley for allowing me to review The book and giving me the eARC to read. It was an interesting adventure follow crispin in his self discovery he is a very likeable and relatable character i did feel for him seeing how his relationships with different characters were. It was interesting to watch it all develop through out the book i did however feel like the book was rushed and a lot of the pacing was thrown off, I do feel the book could of been a lot better and benefit from a slower pace. I enjoyed the world building and I felt that it was and amazing, very well thought out and executed.

  7. 5 out of 5

    emma

    I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I really tried to get into this but I just couldn't. I was intrigued by the magic system, but I just never got sucked into the story or the characters. This started off strong, and I was interested more in Crispin's earth life than that of the dragon world. Although this wasn't for me, this isn't to say that you might not enjoy it, just that I couldn't get into the story. I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I really tried to get into this but I just couldn't. I was intrigued by the magic system, but I just never got sucked into the story or the characters. This started off strong, and I was interested more in Crispin's earth life than that of the dragon world. Although this wasn't for me, this isn't to say that you might not enjoy it, just that I couldn't get into the story.

  8. 4 out of 5

    David Swatling

    Here be dragons! I may not be the YA target reader but I thoroughly enjoyed following teenager Crispin’s adventures in the Realm of Fire. Fantasy, mystery, and otherworldly clashes keep the story moving. But it’s the engaging voice of teen Crispin, at turns funny and vulnerable, that drew me in. Not to mention the sparks that fly upon meeting handsome young Davix. A skillful mixing of genres. And did I mention dragons?

  9. 5 out of 5

    Shelby

    Crispin was one of the most fully realized characters I've ever read in YA Crispin was one of the most fully realized characters I've ever read in YA

  10. 5 out of 5

    renée

    [CW: nsfw, violence, blood, death, mentions of suicide, swearing, grief, bullying, bruises, homophobia, homicide, mentions of murder] This is a good book. Not a perfect one, but surely entertaining and fun to read. Crispin was an interesting main character, though my favorite character in the book was Davix: he was often afraid and impulsive, and would say things as they happened, without romanticizing them, characteriswtics which I’m not used to seeing in protagonists. He also made several pop c [CW: nsfw, violence, blood, death, mentions of suicide, swearing, grief, bullying, bruises, homophobia, homicide, mentions of murder] This is a good book. Not a perfect one, but surely entertaining and fun to read. Crispin was an interesting main character, though my favorite character in the book was Davix: he was often afraid and impulsive, and would say things as they happened, without romanticizing them, characteriswtics which I’m not used to seeing in protagonists. He also made several pop culture references and used ‘internet slangs’ (such as ‘OMG’ and ‘DILF’) throughout the book and that can be positive, but at least to me, it felt excessive and a bit unnatural in this book. As to the pacing, it felt... messy. The first 60% of the book had a rhythm while the rest had another, both making me feel like I was reading two different books: the first was more lighthearted, while the latter felt more dramatic and sad. I didn’t notice a clear transition between those two parts, so that could’ve been smoother. Plus, it would’ve been beneficial to have more drama and sadness in the first part so they’d match and actually feel like two parts of the same work. At times, I also felt overwhelmed by the amount of lore, as if that was being thrown at me, and maybe that was done deliberately, since that was probably what Crispin himself felt while being thrown in a whole new realm, but it did feel weird. I like some of the plot twists, I can say that: the death of a dragon wasn’t what I’d previously expected and the concept of an attack by the Realm of Air was good, though I felt like the build up to that was poorly developed. A mention about social aspects of and how were the dragons of the other Realms would’ve been a nice touch. While plot twists should be unexpected, what makes them good is that they could be noticed if the reader looked at the right places at the right times. Thus, the thing about plot twists isn’t how unexpected it is, but the ability of the author to manipulate the reader’s attention at will, to specific points and scenarios. Most characters were multifaceted, which I very much liked, and I’ll dedicate this paragraph to Davix, because... well, as I said before, I love him. His was my favorite character development in the whole book: he starts as serious and grumpy nerd who’s very responsible and strict. I instantly liked him, because I’m predictable and enjoy this character type. Throughout the story, he softened to Crispin. His vulnerabilities started to show: his grief towards one of his friends who died by the beginning of the book, the start of his defiance towards authority blossoming, with him questioning the law more and more, but also the guilt to do so, because that meant betraying the entities and codes he’d always admired and worshipped. Despite being a scholar and not a soldier, he’s a true warrior, wielding his intelligence to make up strategies, which is shown near the end of the book. And also through him, it becomes clear that the dragons and others in power can be corrupt and are flawed, an interesting aspect: the dragons are human in their core (not literally, but an interpretation). So, I’ll end this review with my usual ‘read this book if...’: if you enjoy pop culture references in books, multifaceted, honest and morally gray characters, as well as seeking a whole lot of lore, then... well, this book is for you!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Ben Berman Ghan

  12. 4 out of 5

    Kirara7

  13. 4 out of 5

    Béla Hegedus

  14. 5 out of 5

    Alanna King

  15. 4 out of 5

    Kitty Shields

  16. 4 out of 5

    Matt Cook

  17. 4 out of 5

    Meghan

  18. 4 out of 5

    Anna Hagg

  19. 4 out of 5

    Madison

  20. 5 out of 5

    Leo

  21. 5 out of 5

    Julie

  22. 5 out of 5

    Danielle

  23. 5 out of 5

    Myiesha Speight

  24. 4 out of 5

    Lael

  25. 5 out of 5

    Paige

  26. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

  27. 5 out of 5

    Michael Stanley

  28. 4 out of 5

    Kim

  29. 5 out of 5

    Siavahda

  30. 5 out of 5

    ☆ Todd

  31. 5 out of 5

    Maryrose

  32. 4 out of 5

    Erin Aley

  33. 5 out of 5

    tim

  34. 4 out of 5

    Adalaide Hyde

  35. 5 out of 5

    Reading_With_Cec

  36. 5 out of 5

    Kate (Feathered Turtle Press)

  37. 4 out of 5

    Sylvia Threadgill

  38. 4 out of 5

    Maggie

  39. 4 out of 5

    'Nathan Burgoine

  40. 4 out of 5

    Dayla

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