Title: Slaying Isidore’s Dragons
Author: C. Kennedy
Publisher: Harmony Ink Press
Pages/Word Count: 350 Pages
At a Glance: I highly recommend this novel to you.
Reviewed By: Sammy
Blurb: Follow the burgeoning love of two teens during the worst year of their lives. Irish-born Declan David de Quirke II is the son of two ambassadors, one Irish and one American. He is ‘out’ to his parents but to no one else. French-born Jean Isidore de Sauveterre is also the son of two ambassadors, one Catalan and one Parisian. His four half brothers have been told to cure him of his homosexuality. Both teens have lost a parent in a London car bombing.
Declan and Isidore meet at the beginning of their senior year at a private academy in the United States. Declan is immediately smitten with Isidore and becomes his knight in shining armor. Isidore wants to keep what is left of his sanity and needs Declan’s love to do it. One is beaten, one is drugged, one is nearly raped, one has been raped. They are harassed by professors and police, and have fights at school, but none of it compares to running for their lives. When the headmaster’s popular son attempts suicide and someone tries to assassinate Declan’s mother, they are thrown headlong into chaos, betrayal, conspiracy, allegations of sexual coercion, even murder. And one of them carries a secret that may get them killed.
Review: Occasionally an author will leave an afterword, a final note of sorts for the reader to digest and more fully understand what they have just read, experienced. In Slaying Isidore’s Dragons, the closing statement by Cody Kennedy defines the reason for why he writes this particular story. Not only is it a list of resources available to those who possibly are enduring, or have endured, abuse, but it is also a love letter of sorts. Kennedy reminds victims of abuse that life can be different, that healing can take place, and that there is a better life waiting for them. He challenges us to get involved and not stand by when we suspect or see abuse taking place. This is the overriding theme in this novel, and it is wrapped in a lush story of love that takes an unflinching look at how abuse may come in many forms.
The story is Isidore’s yet without his Declan, we would be discussing a very different kind of novel altogether. Enduring years of abuse by an uncaring and selfish father, and four evil half brothers, Isidore finally meets someone who can stand up to the impenetrable wall of pain and loneliness that has been methodically built around his life, and dares to defy those who have carefully erected and maintained it. Being a diplomat’s kid himself, Declan understands the system and can find ways around it with the help of his remarkable mother, Sorcha.
Together these two will sweep into Isidore’s life and create a safe haven for him, manipulating his father into giving them temporary custody of his son, and allowing Isidore to live an abuse free life for the first time. But life is never that simple, and there are other forces at work who seek to destroy Isidore, or, at the very least, return him to the hell he endured at a mental institute when he attempted to end a life that was marked by near constant rape and beatings. Nowhere seems safe for either boy or their close friends. Espionage, intrigue, assassinations all plague every step the boys take, and Declan finds himself assuring Isidore over and over that he will do all in his power to keep him safe.
In a book of this length and scope, a one-paragraph synopsis barely touches the surface of the intricate plot Slaying Isidore’s Dragons is built on. Suffice it to say this novel is a page-turner from beginning to end. From the fast paced action and the disturbing unfolding of Isidore’s history, this is a story that grips you from the first page on, and never lets up. The true strength of this book lies in the way in which the writer unflinchingly exposes abuse and what it does to the heart, soul and mind of its victim. However, as it takes a searing look at the life of the abused, we are reminded page after page that abuse does not define Isidore, it does not sully the compassionate, loving person he is, it does not define who he is or diminish him whatsoever. Rather, it highlights Isidore’s amazing strength and endurance, his bravery and intelligence.
Declan “comes out” in this novel to his friends and the world community. His mother has always supported who he is, but living life as ambassador and son has made her caution Declan to be discreet. In many ways, meeting Isidore teaches Declan what true honor and courage are, and allows him to boldly state who he is and whom he loves. Each time Declan stands up to a bully in this novel, he pushes back the walls surrounding Isidore and gives him room to breathe, creating a safe haven where he can find his strength and begin to heal. Their relationship is a thing of true beauty, and watching it unfold in the chapters of this novel reminds us of how sweet first love can be.
While Slaying Isidore’s Dragons is most assuredly a young adult novel, never does it flinch away from the sexual aspect of the young lovers’ lives. While there is limited on-page experiences, those moments are written with such care and tenderness that one almost weeps at the first time experiences for these boys. Always attempting to be realistic, there are varying responses from the parents of these gay young men who choose, or are forced by circumstances, to come out during this story, some accepting and loving, others harsh and hateful. Not once can it be said that Slaying Isidore’s Dragons wraps itself in anything less than reality. These are flesh and blood characters who repeatedly must pull from extraordinary reserves of strength in order to survive. As such, they love fiercely and completely.
Awww me, there is so much to this novel I have barely given you the beginning of why it is such an outstanding read. This bold, sweeping saga is a compelling story of redemptive love and healing grace. The people who inhabit Cody Kennedy’s Slaying Isidore’s Dragons are heartbreakingly real and heroic, and their story is so important. I highly recommend this novel to you. It is one that will impact your life in so many ways and remind you that we must all be dragon slayers.
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