Release Date: October 15, 2019
Publisher: Tor.com Publishing
Genre: Historical Fantasy
“Burning with resentment and intrigue, this fantastical family drama invites readers to dig up the secrets of the Belman family, and wonder whether myths and legends are real enough to answer for a history of sin.
Uprooted from Bath by his father’s failures, Gideon Belman finds himself stranded on Ormeshadow farm, an ancient place of chalk and ash and shadow. The land crests the Orme, a buried, sleeping dragon that dreams resentment, jealousy, estrangement, death. Or so the folklore says. Growing up in a house that hates him, Gideon finds his only comforts in the land. Gideon will live or die by the Orme, as all his family has.”
Young Gideon Belman has a good life in Bath, but when his father loses his well-paying and well-respected job as a secretary to a gentleman, the family returns to his father’s ancestral home. Out on the wild, rural coast of England, the Belmans own a farm and pasture land for their sheep, half to John and half to his bitter brother Thomas. After his father’s untimely death, Gideon finds himself trapped under the iron rule of his uncle, who loves nothing more than making others more miserable than he is.
Lonely day after lonely day passes, with only the sullenness of his mother, abuse from his cousins, and derision from his uncle to break the monotony. The only thing keeping him sane as his world is chipped away are the stories his father told him about the Orme, a dragon supposedly sleeping along the coast, and the treasure map carved into the ancient chair in the Belman farmhouse. The Belmans were chosen, or so claimed John, by the Orme to protect her until she was ready to wake.
Western literature is rife with stories about dragons and treasure. It’s a trope older than Great Britain itself. Although Priya Sharma doesn’t do anything particularly innovative with it, she does twist it in a sinister yet fascinating way. While the plot moves in familiar ways, but the way the characters interpret those shifts is unusual and unexpected. The story reads like a myth recorded, all flowery 19th century prose cascading around something much older and more romantic. All dark fantasy and leering characters and gloomy landscapes.
Readers looking for a fresh take on ancient dragons and dark family secrets should put Ormeshadow high on their TBR. Priya Sharma is one talented novelist, but if you’re new to her work you could hardly go wrong by starting here.
Thanks to Tor.com Publishing for sending me a review copy.