Today's book review is Tooth and Claw by Jo Walton.
Somehow I managed to finish the last few pages of Tooth and Claw last night in spite of coming home to find Lori down. I'm not in the best frame of mind for a book review, but I'd rather write now than forget more of it.
I picked this book up at Larry Smith's table at a con quite some time ago on a whim. I seldom read books by unfamiliar authors because I have more than I can read from authors I already know I like. When I do buy one, I often find myself second guessing the choice to buy it and leaving it sit while I read other things. While this happened to Tooth and Claw, the book won the World Fantasy Award, and I encountered some of the author's writing on LJ, and these two factors got me to finally pick it up.
This book has some very nice world building, with an unusual take on dragons. The society is very much modeled -- almost to the point of parody -- on 19th Century England. People who are well informed and interested in this period will probably enjoy this book more than I did, unless knowing more about real England just makes it clear that what seems superficially valid turns out to be full of errors I didn't know enough to catch. The plot is rather dull at first, as the author introduces us to a bunch of characters and explains the social dynamics, but by the end there's a lot happening and it races to a fairly satisfying, if predictable, conclusion. The book is some kind of romance novel -- I'm not a connoisseur of romances so I can't classify it, but it's the sort with more than one couple who manage to sort out the tensions between them so that everyone can be happy. It's only fantasy because the people in it are dragons rather than humans, but the dragons are unusual enough that I found this enough motivation to enjoy the book.
It's a fairly short book, and will be a quick read for you people that read fast. (It took me a lot of days to read it, but not very many hours -- just no time.) Read it for the world building and the examination of how the unusual biological imperatives of the dragons shape a society that looks oddly familiar; it's well worth it for that, even though the story itself is a little thin. I'll give it an 8 out of 10.