Published October 1st 2019 by Balzer + Bray
Ember St. George is a dragon. At least she was, before her adoptive father—a powerful but accident-prone Magician—turned her into a human girl to save her life. Unfortunately, Ember’s growing tendency to burst into flames at certain temperatures—not to mention her invisible wings—is making it too dangerous for her to stay in London. The solution: ship Ember off to her aunt’s research station in frigid Antarctica.
Though eccentric Aunt Myra takes getting used to, Ember quickly feels at home in a land of ice storms, mischievous penguins, and twenty-four-hour nights. She even finds herself making friends—with a girl genius called Nisha and a mysterious orphan named Moss. Then she discovers that Antarctica is home to the Winterglass Hunt, a yearly tradition in which rare ice dragons are hunted for their jeweled scales. Furious, Ember decides to join the hunt to sabotage it from the inside.
But being an undercover dragon isn’t easy—especially among dragon hunters. Can a twelve-year-old fire dragon survive the many dangers that come her way in the Antarctic wilderness and protect the ice dragons from extinction?
She thought of the captive fire dragons, and her resolve hardened. If she could do something – anything – to save the ice dragons from a similar fate, she would. No matter what her aunt thought.
Ember doesn’t want to leave London, but she soon realizes that it is no longer safe for her to do so: she is a fire dragon, transformed into human form when she was an infant. So, it’s off to Antarctica, where her aunt has a research facility nestled under the shadow of Queen Victoria’s far reach of the British Empire. There, she hopes the frigid temperatures of the Antarctic will prevent her from bursting into flames and will one day allow her to return to her father.
But it doesn’t take long for Ember to learn of the Winterglass Hunt, an annual hunting expedition in which ice dragons are tracked down and killed for their extremely valuable scales. With the help of Nisha and Moss, the only friends she has ever had, Ember plots to sabotage the hunt. From the inside.
In the land of desperate cold, rare dragons, and unknown spirits, Ember quickly realizes that there’s more to the ice dragons than she thought… and to herself. But suspicion has begun to arise within the dragon hunters, suspicion that will threaten both her life and the lives of her companions.
I wasn’t sure if this book would be interesting enough to keep me reading, but I’m pleased to say that it is now one of my favourite books! Though the plot did not unfold immediately, I was given little pieces of information right from the start that set my curiosity down the path of finding out what happened next. When the plot picked up its pace, there was so much new information pouring in; new secrets, characters, loyalties, questions. Every character seemed to have a secret or alternate motive, and the stakes climbed higher and higher for Ember as the story progressed.
I loved how, though Ember is twelve in the story, the writing style and plot line isn’t indicative of a twelve-year-old. While everything is seen through Ember’s perspective, it has its complexities and intrigue that kept it interesting to read for me.
Anyone who enjoys magic and dragons should add Ember and the Ice Dragons to their reading list. I don’t want to restrict it to a certain reading level or grade, but I will suggest middle grade readers. There is no romantic content nor language, and the violence is contained to hunters and their quarry (however, I will mention one occasion in which one of the characters threatens Ember with a knife, with the intent of killing her, but this is the only display of man-to-man violence).