“The Last Dragoners of Bowbazar” by Indra Das

OK. This is the second book I’ve read by Indra Das, and I guess I should just go ahead and admit from now that I have an odd relationship with his books. I love the premise of the stories and love the writing, so I begin the book engaged, but at some point, even if it’s a novella like this one and is less than 200 pages, I’ll get lost in the narrative and won’t fully grasp what’s going on, but I’ll keep reading anyway because I love the prose.






slated for June 30, 2023 
(I read an ARC.)


Ru is a boy from nowhere. Though he lives somewhere–the city of Calcutta–his classmates in school remind him he doesn’t look like them, and must come from somewhere else. When Ru asks his parents, they tell him they are descended from nomads. But even nomads must come from somewhere. The question, forever on the mind of the boy from nowhere, is where.

Ru dreams things that wouldn’t seem out of place in the fantasy novels his father read to him when young. Fragments of a culture that doesn’t exist in this world, but might in another, where sky and sea are one, and humans sail this eternal ocean on the backs of divine beasts.

Ru dreams of dragons, of serpents impossible.

Perhaps Ru remembers dragons. Alone in a city that’s home but doesn’t feel like it, Ru befriends Alice, his neighbor from the nearby Chinatown. As they grow with their friendship, Ru finds that Calcutta may yet be a home for him. But with his best friend starting to realize that Ru’s house and family hide a myriad of secrets, the question haunts him still–where is his family from? Are they truly from nowhere, migrants to this reality? And if so, what strange wings brought them across the vast reaches of impossibility to here–and what is their purpose? (Goodreads)

My thoughts

The Last Dragoners of Bowbazar is a coming-of-age story set in Calcutta, India, about a boy raised in a most intriguing family. Ru’s parents and grandmother are nomads who have a close relationship with dragons, which are real to them. Although they try to teach Ru about their culture, they often ply him with the Tea of Forgetfulness to avoid steeping him too much in their beliefs. It’s an interesting story, relayed in just a few pages, as this is a novella. And although it’s slow paced, the prose easily draws you in.

Of course, the prose is what I liked and admired the most, and also what I paid the most attention to as I read. I thought the story was OK, but I wasn’t that interested in it. The protagonist didn’t appeal to me, and the quiet nature of the story didn’t excite me either. So what kept me reading was my admiration of Das’s writing. Actually, I don’t think I paid close attention to the plot until about close to the end, which was bitter-sweet for me and left me feeling sad.

Other things I liked include the story’s focus on a person torn between two worlds, as Ru is pulled between this world (our world) and that of his parents’, which he learns about from their stories and what they teach him — what lingers after the effects of the Tea of Forgetfulness. But Ru is also treated as an outsider by almost everyone except his best friend, his neighbor Alice, because of how he looks and that he’s unable to say where exactly he’s from. In this way, I think readers who’ve ever felt displaced could relate to some of Ru’s struggles.

The dragons were interesting as well and were presented in a new way to me. Not so much the large, talking, fiery beasts we usually get in fantasy. Instead, they are almost spiritual beings in Das’s book, but not exactly that either. I guess I think of them as spiritual since, to me, it seems that Ru’s family connect to them in a spiritual sense, on a spiritual level. I liked that. They seem to have a symbiotic relationship with the dragons: caring for them and in turn being cared by them — even being able to eat of the dragons.

Overall: ★★☆☆☆ ½

Although my rating is somewhat low, I would recommend the story. I rate based on enjoyment, and although I liked parts of this and admire the writing, I didn’t enjoy reading it so much to rate it higher.

Buy | Borrow | Bypass


Reread | “The Son of Neptune” by Rick Riordan

This was such an enjoyable reading experience that I wonder why I didn’t like it much my first time through. I’m convinced that I probably wasn’t in the mood for it back then (and unfairly blamed Riordan for my lack of enjoyment), but it was exactly what I needed when I reread it a couple weeks ago.


MG Fantasy


Heroes of Olympus, book 2




The Son of Neptune is the second novel in the Heroes of Olympus series, which follows the Percy Jackson books and is also about demigods. In the first of these Heroes of Olympus books, The Lost Hero, we’re introduced to Jason, Leo, and Piper, who do the usual: must survive until they make it to Camp Half-Blood and then go on a quest to save the world. In that book we learn that Gaea, mother earth, is awakening. Also in that book we learn that Jason has lost much of his memory and doesn’t remember where he’s from.

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“Howl’s Moving Castle” by Diana Wynne Jones

I read this as part of a Wyrd & Wonder read-along last month. It’s a book I’d long been interested in, since I’ve often heard high praises for the story, both the book and the film. After completing the book, I immediately sought out the film to watch, so I’ll discuss both below.


MG Fantasy


Howl’s Moving Castle, book 1



Goodreads summary

Sophie has the great misfortune of being the eldest of three daughters, destined to fail miserably should she ever leave home to seek her fate. But when she unwittingly attracts the ire of the Witch of the Waste, Sophie finds herself under a horrid spell that transforms her into an old lady. Her only chance at breaking it lies in the ever-moving castle in the hills: the Wizard Howl’s castle. To untangle the enchantment, Sophie must handle the heartless Howl, strike a bargain with a fire demon, and meet the Witch of the Waste head-on. Along the way, she discovers that there’s far more to Howl—and herself—than first meets the eye. (Goodreads)

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“The Lives of Christopher Chant” by Diana Wynne Jones

It’s highly possible that these Chrestomanci books might become one of my favorite middle-grade fantasy series. I’m really enjoying what I’ve read so far and can’t help wondering again and again if I’d read these books as a kid. They’re such fun!


MG Fantasy


Chrestomanci, book 2



Quick summary

Instead of continuing where the first book, Charmed Life, left off, The Lives of Christopher Chant instead gives us the backstory of the Chrestomanci, a noted magician, in Charmed Life.

Christopher Chant is raised as a lonely kid, secluded in his nursery with only his governesses to interact with as his parents become more and more self-absorbed as they grow apart. But soon Christopher is able to go off on adventures, exploring other worlds. He doesn’t realize that he’s unique, that he has more than one life and can do magic.

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Fantasy Books I Recently DNF

Every now and then, I do a roundup of books I did not finish (DNF). I don’t often give up on books, but I’m trying to do so more often since there are many things I’d like to read and there’s no point torturing myself with something I do not like.

And I also sometimes rate the books I DNF. However, I only do so if I’ve read a decent bit of it to have formed a strong opinion. I always mention in the review, or whatever writeup I do, that I DNF the book so folks know to take my opinion with a grain of salt or something.

Previous DNF roundups:

The Sword Defiant by Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan




Lands of the Firstborn, book 1



Quick summary

This is the first in a new fantasy series by the author. The story mostly focuses on Sir Aelfric, a veteran warrior who was instrumental in defeating the Dark Lord with his band of warrior friends.

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Read-Along Discussion: Howl’s Moving Castle, Week 3

Time for the third and last check-in for the Howl’s Moving Castle read-along. This week’s discussion questions come from Beth & Nils of the Fantasy Hive.

Let’s start with the epic magic battle we’re treated to in ch16! What did you make of it? Was all the magic easy to visualise?

It was easy for me to visualize, but I wasn’t much impressed by it. I think I’d gotten so wrapped up in wanting Sophie to realize and acknowledge what’s going on with and around her that I became too frustrated to be impressed by much. So I think this is one I’ll enjoy a lot more on reread. However, I’d love to see how Miyazaki brings about this battle scene in his film.

Following the battle, it’s decided they must move Calcifer, and so Howl purchases the hat shop. This is one of the few moments in the book where we witness Howl actually perform a magic spell. What did you think of the move and the resulting flower shop?

I actually really liked this set of events I think because Sophie has such a strong reaction to them, even if she couldn’t tell what’s bugging her at first. But it’s one of few times that Sophie doesn’t seem to simply accept what’s happening to her and is instead angry and expresses that anger. I didn’t care much about Howl performing the spell and instead wanted the story to dig more into the emotions Sophie was battling with. I wondered how she felt and what she thought about the hat shop being vacant and returning to the place. We got some of that, but I wanted more.

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Read-Along Discussion: Howl’s Moving Castle, Week 2

Unsurprisingly, I’m late posting my replies to the second week of the Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones read-along for Wyrd & Wonder, a monthlong celebration of all things fantasy.

This week’s questions come from Beth & Nils, who both blog over on the Fantasy Hive. They posed about 11 questions, but I’ll only answer a few.

This week’s reading opens with Sophie mending Howl’s suit. By Chapter 14, Sophie finally learns that she’s been inadvertently charming clothes. Was it as obvious to you as everyone else in the book? Or were you as surprised as Sophie?

It was so obvious to me that I was becoming annoyed with Sophie and the story for not fully acknowledging it earlier. I kept thinking that maybe there was some sort of magical block preventing her from realizing what she was doing (like Cat in Charmed Life), but that doesn’t seem to be the case, which frustrates me. I was also hoping for a greater reaction from Sophie — more surprise — when she found out, so I was disappointed there too.

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“Page” by Tamora Pierce

My glacial progress rereading the Protector of the Small series continues with Page, the second book.

I started this book last year but ended up putting it down several times, finding the story too boring to keep my interest for long, which surprised me. I wisely guessed that it must be a “mood thing” and set the book aside for much of the year before returning to it earlier this year and quickly completing it in a week. I was glad for that, as I’d started to become worried that I’d fallen out of love with a childhood favorite. Turns out that I just had a bout of the reading blues that lasted for much of 2022.


YA Fantasy


Protector of the Small, book 2



Quick summary

After completing a probationary year, Keladry of Mindelan finally, officially begins training to become a knight. She (and me, too) is still angry at having to do a probationary year at all, but she’s pleased that Lord Wyldon has agreed to allow her to continue.

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Read-Along Discussion: Howl’s Moving Castle, Week 1

As I keep saying — Wyrd & Wonder is here!! 😀

Wyrd & Wonder is a monthlong celebration of all things fantasy, and among the events the hosts have planned are two readalongs. I’m participating in the Howl’s Moving Castle readalong since I’m on a Diana Wynne Jones kick ever since trying the first book in her Chrestomanci series, Charmed Life.

The discussion questions for the first week were written by Lisa at Dear Geek Place.

For those who have seen the film adaptation/first time readers: These opening chapters already make it clear how much of a difference there is between the two versions of this story. How do you feel about that difference? Are you curious to read on, or has it thrown you?

This is my first encounter with the story. I haven’t yet seen the film, but I intend to watch it after completing this. So far, it reminds me a bit of Jones’s Chrestomanci stories I’ve read so far. For a quick moment, I wondered if this story was set in the same world because one of the characters’ names sounded familiar.

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“Cultish: The Language of Fanaticism” by Amanda Montell

I think I’d heard of this book before a friend convinced me to try it. But I can’t remember where or when I heard of it. My friend gave it such high praises that I became curious and decided to borrow it from the library. When I started reading, I easily fell for it too.


Nonfiction — Psychology, Linguistics





Goodreads summary

The author of the widely praised Wordslut analyzes the social science of cult influence: how cultish groups from Jonestown and Scientology to SoulCycle and social media gurus use language as the ultimate form of power.

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