Review copy provided by author. Further disclaimer: Mer and I are friends and have critiqued each other’s work in the past, although I had nothing to do with this one. (It came out really well without me!)
I’m not sure where to start on the stuff I like about this book. (I don’t think there was stuff I didn’t like about this book, so that’s easy enough.) There’s the setting: for all that “generi-Europe” is more closely Germany-France-England than anywhere else, it’s not really anywhere very well grounded, whereas Handbook is actually set on the Rhine River, with cultural and geographic specificity abounding (but not overwhelming a book of this length). There’s the main character, with her very well-conceived disability being part but not even remotely all of who she is. There’s the supporting cast, including a character who would be the main character of just about any other fantasy novel but shines in a supporting role. There’s the interweaving of folk and fairy tale influences, some just around the edges and some right up front and center.
What I’m trying to say here is this book: it is full of good stuff. And you might not learn all that much about slaying dragons from it, but there is enough other stuff with horses and inks and like that, it will balance out. (And there are dragons! But. Well. Just go find out yourself.)