The Dragon Bone Flute by M. Todd Gallowglas

The Dragon Bone Flute imageBrief Summary: For Elzibeth, life revolves around music.  But when her flute is taken away, a devastated Elzibeth must learn to reinvent meaning in her life—with a dragon bone flute.

The Tsundoku Scale: Middle of the Pile, 4 out of 10.

The Good: Gallowglas has such a tantalizing idea for this novel—the power of a dragon mixed with the soft melody of a flute and the love of a young girl for music—and this idea provides such an attractive contrast to the story.  There’s a lot of potential here from the loving Frances who dotes on Elzibeth, to the angry but humbled brothers, to the disreputable knight.  What’s more, the sheer power of the flute to heal, or even kill, gives it a dangerous kind of beauty.  Ultimately, however, the story ends up feeling flat and its full potential remains like a fish below the surface of water: unseen.  But still, there is an uncanny imagination that is there and I can’t wait to see what will happen when Gallowglas puts his imagination into making a good story.

The Bad: This is a novella, but that is no excuse for having a flat story.  One problem is that Elzibeth’s voice throughout the story never matches up to the allure of her flute.  Because of this, I found myself feeling almost no sympathy for Elzibeth and her plight.  Also, there’s way too much telling and not showing, which in itself would not be a problem if what was being told was actually interesting.  But instead, there a moments like when Elzibeth epically returns to the dragon’s cave, scared and confused, and that’s really all you get–that she’s scared and confused, which could be paralleled with practically any girl in her situation and does nothing  to make me think this is Elzibeths story and no one else’s.  The story lopes along using long sentences without the vivid, moving details to make the story jump off the page, and it comes off sounding more clunky than mesmerizing.