Book Review: The Dragon Sleeps by Ellen Read Skip to content

Review: The Dragon Sleeps by Ellen Read

Book Review: The Dragon Sleeps by Ellen Read

“A Dragon statue. An ancient sword.

What treasure is worth killing for?

It’s 1927 in Victoria, Australia. A hedonistic time after the Great War
when young people knew they could enjoy life without the threat of war hanging over them. A time when women have more options opened to them.

There is a weekend house party at Thornton Park and Alexandra Thornton thinks it will be a good time to break the news to her father that she wants to be an antiques dealer, like him, her grandfather and great-grandfather before her.

Only a small number of people are invited. Amongst the guests are Zhang Huo,
the Chinese antiques dealer who, with his son, has brought a Ming dragon statue from China for Thomas Thornton.

Benedict Archer, who is manager of Thornton Antiques in Melbourne and who has
been secretly helping Alexandra learn more about her family business, is also invited. Alexandra asks Benedict and Edith Blackburn, her friend since childhood, to be with her when she approaches her father.

When Edith claims that Benedict is in love with her, Alexandra can’t believe it.
In all the time they’d been at Thornton Antiques together, he’d never said
a word. Now, Alexandra looks at him differently.
Can it be true?

Then a body found in the orchard and, before the weekend is over, a priceless artefact is stolen. Alexandra is determined to discover how these things are connected to the Ming dragon and the antiques her great-grandfather brought
with him from Hong Kong so many years ago.

What secret has remained hidden atThornton Park for the last eight years?”

Book Review: The Dragon Sleeps by Ellen Read

What I thought:

The Dragon Sleeps was my first murder mystery in a long time! I used to read them all the time when I was younger, and then my paranoia won over and I had to stop because apparently everything scares me? In murder mysteries, anyway.

This book reminded me why I love this genre so much! It was the first of my four holiday reads, and it was so easy to get lost in it; perfect for my holiday!

Alexandra is the daughter of a rather wealthy antiques dealer. She’s an incredibly good person, but not to the extend that she can’t see any bad in people. She wants to see the good in everything, but she’s not naive. She’s also not content to stick to her current lifestyle of being waited on and doing nothing but attending social events: she wants to be an antiques dealer like her father and grandfather (and so on – you get the idea), and has been studying behind his back.

When the first body is found, she doesn’t cower in a corner and prays for everything to blow over. She takes an active part in helping the murders get solved, and knowingly puts herself in danger when she’s sure it’ll help solve the mystery.

If you don’t love her already, let me summarise: Alexandra isn’t some spoilt brat, but a brave, intelligent young woman who doesn’t care for social norms and would much rather work than sit around looking pretty all day. She has wealth (you should see that manor, friends!), but she doesn’t wish to hide behind it.

One of my favourite aspects was Alexandra’s relationship with Edith. It added some adorable banter and was used well to lighten up the mood when the murders upset the peace.

The plot developed well, and gave just enough new information when the last plot twist had sunk in. The more I read, the harder it was to put down and while I had my suspicions regarding the murderer’s identity, there was so much more going on. While I was mostly right, there were other motives and developments in the background, too, and it kept me turning the pages.

Thornton Park is on my list of fictional places to visit when I die and go to author/bookworm heaven (because it’s definitely the same place, or maybe I can hop from cloud to cloud?) (nobody burst my bubble, please). The gardens, the park, the animals cuddling to you… <3 Need. To. Go!

This has definitely made me want to read more mystery novels again. I’m looking forward to the sequel and can’t wait to see how the story develops next. If you don’t usually read much mystery, this could be a good starting novel for you because it’s not too heavy. If mystery is your thing and you fancy something more light-hearted, I recommend this, too! (And just so we understand each other – I’m only calling it light-hearted because it didn’t scare me witless! I appreciate that in my books!)

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  1. Emily Wrayburn Emily Wrayburn

    This definitely sounds like a lot of fun! I have seen this one around a bit on the Australian Women Writers Challenge forums, so I might have to seek it out as part of that.

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