Fantasy Fans

SFINCS Review: Dragonmeat

Welcome to another review as part of the Speculative Fiction Indie Novella Championship, or SFINCS, which I am judging as part of Team Jamreads alongside a cohort of other lovely judges. For my SFINCS reviews, I will be judging each book on the following five criteria: Characters, Setting, Plot, Writing, and Enjoyment with a bonus point for Cover Art and Formatting. This review contains my honest thoughts and does not represent the opinion or final rating of the team.

This review is for Dragonmeat by Angela Boord and is a finalist allocated to Team Jamreads for review.

Dragonmeat is poison. But what if you’re starving?

Peri will do anything to keep her chronically ill father alive in their starving city. Using her now useless scholarly talents to research thievery, she’s become a highly successful food thief—small, ordinary—invisible. In Medeas, gripped in the iron fist of its mad governor, ravaged by dragons, hiding is a way of life.

Then her stealing triggers a riot, and a mysterious stranger steps in to save her. Frost has food and he’s willing to share his secret…but talking to him might be the most dangerous thing Peri’s ever done. How can she find the courage to leave her safe shadows and take a stand when her father’s life hangs in the balance?

Dragonmeat is a fast-paced novella set in award-winning author Angela Boord’s Eterean Empire universe–a lush, dangerous world of empire and resistance inspired by Rome and Renaissance Italy.

Find Dragonmeat on Goodreads

The Review

This is another story that I initially read over a year ago as part of the Dark Ends anthology, but hey, there’s nothing wrong with a re-read! Dragonmeat is technically a prequel story as it’s set hundreds of years before the events of Fortune’s Fool, the first book of the Eterean Empire series. But does it work as a standalone story?


This is the story of Peri, a young woman trapped in the besieged city of Medeas where everyone is starving. As the main caretaker for her father, who is bedridden from illness, Peri has taken it upon herself to steal food out of desperation. However, one day she is caught by a mystery man called Frost who offers her food if she’ll only listen to his tale… but with her father’s safety at stake, and a mad governor ruling the city, can Frost be trusted?

I really loved Peri’s character and the relationship she has with her father. Both appear quite stubborn and clever, and also come across as realistic and relatable. While Peri takes some chances for her father’s sake, she’s also cautious. Her father reminded me of my own when I was a carer for him during his struggles with dementia, thus to me, their relationship held an extra layer of emotion that touched my heart.


Taking place in the city of Medeas, this is inspired by Rome and Renaissance Italy, and it really comes across in the detail of the city as well as the worldbuilding and lore surrounding it. What I found most fascinating, of course, was the role the dragons play in this world. These are deadly monsters, forcing the city into lockdown due to their attacks. They’re so deadly, that there’s an entire group of what appears to be mages crossed with a religious cult that use young people as sacrificial bait to deal with them. I’d definitely like to learn more about their place in this world!


The story, then, is about Peri as she struggles to do right by her father. Upon meeting Frost, she has the dilemma of whether to trust him and risk her father’s safety. Starvation makes her desperate and causes her to make some tough choices as well as some stupid ones, but who can think straight on an empty stomach? Politics are also playing out in the background as the cruelty of the governor’s actions in keeping the city under siege become apparent. There’s a LOT of story here packed into this tiny novella. Sometimes it felt as though I was reading a much larger book, because there is so much detail, and so much happening, and yet it never feels overwhelming or unnecessary.


The writing is my kind of style, in first person with a lot of character voice. It was a pleasure to read through the pages and soak in the detail of this world.


Dragonmeat feels more than a novella. It feels larger than life, as large as a dragon you could say! Though technically a prequel novella, this story stands on its own and unravels itself like any larger novel, revealing its secrets at the right moment to keep you enticed and reading on. While this story did pack a lot into its pages, my biggest gripe is that I wanted more, and the ending was a bit too abrupt for my liking – I wanted it to carry on and show me what happened next, what happened to the city and its characters. The ending felt like a tease after all the build up! Since this story is set hundreds of years before Fortune’s Fool, I’m not sure I’ll get these answers, but Fortune’s Fool is most certainly on my TBR!

Cover Art and Formatting

I quite like the cover! It’s minimalistic while also looking stylish.

Final Score: 4.5/5

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