10% off all books and free delivery over £40
Buy from our bookstore and 25% of the cover price will be given to a school of your choice to buy more books. *15% of eBooks.

When Women Were Dragons

"A devastatingly powerful coming-of-age novel about the rage of women who rise up and refuse to be silenced"

View All Editions

The selected edition of this book is not available to buy right now.
Add To Wishlist
Write A Review Read An Extract

LoveReading Says

LoveReading Says

Otherworldly, yet rooted in patriarchal realities, Kelly Barnhill‘s When Women Were Dragons is a storytelling masterwork. Set from the 1950s, it presents a magnificent maelstrom of fire-breathing women who refuse to keep quiet, exposing the trauma of enforced silence, and shining a blazing light on how vital it is to transcend imposed shame and live your own way.

“I was four years old when I first saw a dragon. I was four years old when I first learned to be silent about dragons. Perhaps this is how we learn silence — an absence of words, an absence of context, a hole in the universe where the truth should be”. So shares Alex, the narrator of this brilliant novel, who lives at a time when adults remember the “mass dragoning” of women that occurred on 25th April 1955, but never mention it. Alex’s aunt Marla was among those who rose up and transformed into a dragon, but it’s as if she never existed. Marla is never spoken of again - not by Alex’s sick mother, and not by Alex’s father, who leaves her to raise Marla’s daughter Beatrice.

Before her transformation and vanishing, Marla told Alex that, “All women are magic. Literally all of us. It’s in our nature. It’s best you learn that now”. Fearing little Beatrice won’t be able to resist her powerful urges to dragon, Alex shuns any such notions, and silences Beatrice’s talk of dragons. But librarian Mrs Gyzinska, who supports Alex’s plan to become a mathematician, shares her learned insights, and frames the phenomenon of dragoning in the context of patriarchy: “There are people who have problems with women, and alas, many of them are also women. That is because of something called the patriarchy… an unnecessary and oppressive obstacle, and best disposed of as soon as possible.”

As Alex grapples with tremendous conflicts and prejudice, we’re presented with a spectacular prom scene, a tense but glorious reunion, a beautiful love of a lifetime, and glorious sisterhood. What a story.

Joanne Owen

Star Books

Find This Book In

Primary Genre Young Adult Fiction
Other Genres:
Recommendations:

About

Press Reviews

Collections Featuring This Book

You Might Also Like...

The Infinite

Patience Agbabi

Paperback

In Stock

£7.19 £7.99

The Drowning Day

Anne Cassidy

Paperback

In Stock

£7.19 £7.99

Stone

Finbar Hawkins

Paperback

In Stock

£8.09 £8.99

Like A Charm

Elle McNicoll

Paperback

In Stock

£7.19 £7.99