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Wednesday, March 29, 2023

SPFBO 8 Finalist Review: Miss Percy’s Pocket Guide to the Care and Feeding of British Dragons by Quenby Olson


Read FBC's interview with Quenby
Book links: AmazonGoodreads

AUTHOR INFO: Quenby Olson lives in Central Pennsylvania where she spends most of her time writing, glaring at baskets of unfolded laundry, and chasing the cat off the kitchen counters. She lives with her husband and children, who do nothing to dampen her love of classical ballet, geeky crochet, and staying up late to watch old episodes of Doctor Who. 




Publication Date: October 26, 2021 Page Count: 421


You’d have to have been living under a rock this last year, if you hadn’t heard a little of the buzz surrounding Miss Percy’s Pocket Guide to the Care and Feeding of British Dragons (from hereon Miss Percy) about the spinster Mildred Percy, inheriting a trunk containing an unhatched dragon egg.

 I mean, I practically live under a rock myself, and my little corner of book twitter was definitely buzzing.

Anyway, whether you had heard of it or not, is beside the point. I just wanted to preface this review by saying- it was very hard not to go into this one with my expectations so high, that I feared nothing could possibly live up to them.

But don’t you worry, because Miss Percy was very near perfect.

The Cast

The Heroes:

Mildred, our forty-year-old spinster, proves it’s never too late to stand-up for yourself. Mildred had so much growth over the course of this story. I wanted to cheer for her when she finally threw caution to the wind and didn’t listen to that nagging little voice of self-doubt that has held her back from doing and saying things, that should have long been said, or done.

And I was glad she found people who appreciated her and loved her, as much as she deserved.

The Vicar Mr. Wiggan, and his housekeeper Mrs. Babbinton, were the perfect welcoming counterbalance to Mildred’s sister Diana. I wanted them to keep Mildred, and never let her go back to her sister’s home.

And let’s not forget Fitz, who managed to win my heart by being a combination of all my farm animals and pets, at once.

The Villains:

Diana, the bratty Belinda, and Reginald.

Reginald, wins all-time favourite intro of a character ever, with this line- “If Reginald Hawthorne had known he was going to be the villain of the piece, he might have made a greater effort to dress the part.”

A good villain for me, is someone you can feel a little sorry for but also want to slap to the moon and back.  These three qualify, on all accounts. Some needed a little more slapping than others though.

The Bad:

My only real quibbles in the story had to do with the abundant use of meandering thoughts in parenthesis, sometimes even doubled-up! I occasionally would lose track of the train of thought that the whole process started with, especially in some of the longer ones.

And I do feel a little hypocritical complaining about this, since it’s something- if you’re familiar with my reviews, you’ll find I am pretty excessive about myself.

I did find that these lessened quite a lot, as the story went along and there was more happening to fill the space and thoughts.

The Good:

I’m one of those weird readers that isn’t all about having dragons in my fantasy… that is until they become the size of small puppies, with roly-poly warm bellies (I could not help but think of my sweet lab, Ellie, when she was small and fat) and apparently, I am all over that.

I think a lot of why this story worked so well for me, is that everything is understated (other than the asides).

There’s just enough Fitz, to make me want more. Just enough romance (well honestly, there never can be enough but in this case- it was enough) to satisfy. Just enough villain and bratty side-kick plotting to worry about the outcome for the heroes (I kind of want a story about these two going through hardships and learning to live with their choices). And the humour was spot on; not too much, doesn’t try too-hard to be funny, and the occasional wall break- the “quiet you” had me chuckling a lot.

One more thought and then I will shut-up. Not only were the entries from the Pocket Guide, at the beginning of the chapters great for filling in the dragon-lore, but they also allowed for us to believe there was a happily-ever-after. One where Mildred, went on to spend her life as the Jane Goodall of dragons- studying and living among or at least near them. And this, was all on top of the lovely ending we did get.

I really just liked the completeness that the story gave me as a whole (especially since I apparently didn’t crawl out far enough from my rock, to realize that at some point, the second book had been fully-written and published, and I somehow forgot all about it) and that if I never went on to read another in this series, I would be happy with everything the way I left it.


Miss Percy won my heart bit-by-bit, with every page I turned. The story was full of humour, charm, and all the feel-good sweetness that you’d hope for from a story surrounding a toddling baby dragon named Fitz.


Miss Percy’s Pocket Guide to the Care and Feeding of British Dragons

Miss Mildred Percy is living the only dull life she has available: as a middle-aged spinster, caring for her sister’s three children. Worn down with worry and unsure of herself, Mildred’s life is changed by the arrival of her inheritance from her late uncle, which includes a rather odd stone … or is it just a stone?

Miss Percy is the third of this year’s finalists that I’d qualify as “cozy” fantasy, just on account of the lower stakes, whimsy, and a calmer setting … which is not necessarily my bag. It also has a distinctly Regency setting, which had me cautious. Even so, I found it a pleasant read.

I’d say this is definitely a character-driven story. Mildred herself is very likable. It’s not common to see middle-aged women as prime characters in fantasy, so this was a refreshing perspective. She’s a very tepid person in the beginning, unsure of herself and hesitant with every action she takes. Her sister and niece are arrogant and dismissive of Mildred and her feelings. Yet, she still manages to direct the plot with her decisions. Other than the arrival of the dragon egg (yes, the stone), the major events are driven by Mildred’s actions, wishy-washy as she was … and she only gained strength through the story. The supporting cast is varied and some are interesting. The infant dragon, despite being a newborn, develops a distinct personality that’s fun to read.

There are two minor romantic sub-threads in the plot, and the contrast in those romances is very telling for the characters involved. Mildred’s final conversation with her sister (her prime tormentor) was the highlight of the story for me.

While I think the light, conversational nature of the prose will appeal to many readers, the heavily-used technique of setting off information in parentheses made it a chore for me in places. I get that it’s consistent with a Jane-Austen style of writing but I found it more cumbersome than anything. Also, the plot here is rather light and while Mildred enjoys significant character development, not much else of consequence happens. It’s a good set-up for later books but as a standalone, it felt a little lacking.

Despite that, Miss Percy is a light, enjoyable read. I’d recommend it for anyone who enjoys regency settings, casual, conversational narration, and character-driven tales.


Miss Percy lives with her sister in Upper Plimpton, a pleasant but dull village. She owns nothing of value. She firmly believes that ladies of her age do not have adventures, and has resigned herself to a daily routine to pass the time. 

Then, one day, she inherits a dragon egg. The egg hatches. Her life becomes complicated. And, shudder, exciting.

Mildred Percy may lack agenda and charisma, but she certainly does not lack empathy. Her knees and lower back hurt. She's shy, withdrawn, and can not say no to a good pie. It was refreshing to have such a unique protagonist. Observing her growth and her growing hunger for adventure made me smile. And I consider it high praise - I rarely like characters that much.

I had a blast reading this book. Miss Percy tells an uplifting and warm story. Elegantly written, fast-paced, and with just the right amount of humor. It's the kind of narrative that reassures you that everything will turn out okay in the end, but still offers suspense, frights, humor, and psychological insights. 

Miss Percy’s Pocket Guide to the Care and Feeding of British Dragons focuses on the importance of (found) family, acceptance, kindness, and love, but it's also an exciting story about adventure, overcoming adversity, and teamwork. It’s packed full of lyricism, poignancy, and heart. Highly recommended to readers of all ages, especially those tired of doom and gloom.




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