Review: Dragonfruit by Makiia Lucier

Dragonfruit by Makiia Lucier

Makiia Lucier
Clarion Books
Published April 9, 2024

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

About Dragonfruit

From acclaimed author Makiia Lucier, a dazzling, romantic fantasy inspired by Pacific Island mythology.

In the old tales, it is written that the egg of a seadragon, dragonfruit, holds within it the power to undo a person’s greatest sorrow. An unwanted marriage, a painful illness, and unpaid debt … gone. But as with all things that promise the moon and the stars and offer hope when hope has gone, the tale comes with a warning.

Every wish demands a price.

Hanalei of Tamarind is the cherished daughter of an old island family. But when her father steals a seadragon egg meant for an ailing princess, she is forced into a life of exile. In the years that follow, Hanalei finds solace in studying the majestic seadragons that roam the Nominomi Sea. Until, one day, an encounter with a female dragon offers her what she desires most. A chance to return home, and to right a terrible wrong.

Samahtitamahenele, Sam, is the last remaining prince of Tamarind. But he can never inherit the throne, for Tamarind is a matriarchal society. With his mother ill and his grandmother nearing the end of her reign. Sam is left with two choices: to marry, or to find a cure for the sickness that has plagued his mother for ten long years. When a childhood companion returns from exile, she brings with her something he has not felt in a very long time – hope.

But Hanalei and Sam are not the only ones searching for the dragonfruit. And as they battle enemies both near and far, there is another danger they cannot escape…that of the dragonfruit itself.

My Review

I got lost in the world-building of this book– in only the best ways. The author perfectly balances the politics, traditions, and historical information of the setting, offering enough information to anchor the story in a specific, memorable place without distracting from the characters or plot of the story.

The chapters (and sometimes scenes within a chapter) alternate between Hanalei’s and Sam’s points of view. Both characters have distinct voices, so I never lost track of whose point of view I was in. I loved both characters pretty quickly. She has a complicated past and a lot of shame and grief, but she also has a pure love for seadragons. Sam feels the pressure of his position as a prince in a matriarchal society (a refreshing plight for a young male character), knowing a marital alliance would strengthen and protect his people, but holding out hope that he could marry for love instead of politics.

I like that the minor characters also have key roles, and in those, the author also demonstrates some pretty great balancing skills. I had no trouble keeping track of who each character was (not always easy with as many named characters as there are in DRAGONFRUIT), and these secondary characters contributed without stealing the scene or pulling the reader away from the central part of the story.

So much happens in this book. Adventures at sea with a dangerous dragon-hunting captain and his crew. Rescue attempts for a princess trapped in a poisoned sleep. Magic, mythology, and a splash of romance. DRAGONFRUIT has a lot to offer fantasy readers.

Readers who enjoyed SHADOW AND BONE by Leigh Bardugo, or FOREST OF SOULS by Lori M. Lee will want to put this one on their reading lists immediately.

Content Notes

Recommended for Ages 14 up.

Inspired by Pacific Island mythology and set among islands.

Profanity/Crude Language Content
One instance of mild profanity used.

Romance/Sexual Content
Kissing between boy and girl.

Spiritual Content
Several gods and goddesses mentioned. When someone uses a dragon egg to revive a dying person, terrible tragedies occur, and people believe this may represent vengeance by the god of the dragons for taking something sacred. More than one character questions whether the gods listen or can hear prayers or walk among them.

Some characters have a special mark. It’s a tattoo that appears on their bodies and moves over their skin. The mark can take physical form and serve as a helper to its host.

Violent Content
This isn’t actually violence, though this character does function as a weapon in one scene, but the queen has a tattoo of a spider on her body that moves and comes alive. If you’ve got spider fears, be aware.

Battle violence and situations of peril. One character uses children as labor, hostages, and sacrifices. Dragons are harmed on-scene in the book. Another animal is harmed off-scene.

Drug Content
Several characters are poisoned.

Note: This post contains affiliate links, which do not cost you anything to use but help support this blog. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

About Kasey

Reads things. Writes things. Fluent in sarcasm. Willful optimist. Cat companion, chocolate connoisseur, coffee drinker. There are some who call me Mom.

2 thoughts on “Review: Dragonfruit by Makiia Lucier

  1. This sounds amazing! I thought I recognized the author’s name, and it turns out I’ve read her Isle of Blood and Stone, and really really liked it. So I’m even more excited about this one.

    1. Kasey @ The Story Sanctuary – Sunny Florida – Writer, reader, cat lover and blogger at The Story Sanctuary.
      Kasey says:

      Yay! I love when that happens. I’ve never read Isle of Blood and Stone, but I’m definitely going to check it out now. Thanks, Kim!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *