#SPFBO 8 Finalist Friday: Review for Scales and Sensibility by Stephanie Burgis


What is SPFBO 8 Check out Mark Lawrence’s post here to look at this year’s entrants, judges and allocations list.

This year I am teaming up again with the ladies from The Critiquing Chemist.  We recently announced our finalist. To check out all the Finalists simply follow this link.

Our finalist this year was Miss Percy’s Pocket Guide to the Care and Feeding of British Dragons by Quenby Olson – if you haven’t read it – I highly recommend it – seriously, grab yourself a copy and tuck in. It’s positively delightful.

So, in spite of an absence of posts over here I have been reading my way through the current batch of SPFBO finalists and enjoying myself doing so.  Both myself and my partners in reading have suffered bad news of late and I have to say it has had an impact (for me, obviously I can’t speak for others although I’m sure they feel similarly) and there has been a deplorable lack of blogging, chatting and anything related to books over here (quite shocking really but life has a way of taking over sometimes doesn’t it).

Anyway, from today going forward we will be aiming to post a finalist review every Friday – hence Finalist Friday – therefore one review per week from now until the completion of the competition (*insert here* something, something, something about the best laid plans).

Without further ado our first review is for Scales and Sensibility by Stephanie Burgis.  I will mention that I read and reviewed a copy of this particular title prior to it being entered into the competition and so I will be repeating my thoughts and score below.  In a nutshell if you like Regency, Romance and Fantasy this is for you.


This isn’t my first outing with this particular author and she’s an author that I not only enjoy but feel like I can rely on for a good book and Scales and Sensibility is no exception in that regard.  Clearly, given the title, this is a story that takes influence from Austen so this was an absolute no-brainer for me as I love ‘Anything Austen’ and before I even begin to review this I would start by saying that I think Burgis manages to perfectly nail down the combination of Regency romcom and fantasy.

This is a story that centres around a character called Elinor Tregarth.  Like many of Austen’s characters the Tregarth family have experienced financial ruin followed by dreadful loss.  Elinor and her two sisters found themselves orphaned and in dire straits and were eventually sent to different members of the family.  Elinor resides with her aunt,uncle and cousin Penelope at Hathergill Hall, unfortunately as ‘the poor relation’ she is treated rather badly by both Penelope and her uncle (and her aunt has little to say on the matter having been browbeaten by the two over the years).

As the story begins we meet Penelope as she prepares for her ‘coming out’ ball and witness her bad behaviour as she abuses her recently acquired dragon.  Okay, by way of background dragons have recently been rediscovered, little is known about them and in fact one of the supporting characters is undertaking research looking into their finer points during the course of the book.  The dragons in question are small creatures that can perch on a shoulder or sit curled in a lap and for some reason, a little like handbag dogs, they have become the most recent fashion accessory ‘must have’.  If you don’t have a dragon, in fact, you’re doomed to social failure.  Unfortunately, after one too many tantrums by her cousin, Elinor flees the Hall clutching the abused dragon known as Sir Jessamyn.

Now, I don’t wish to go overboard about the plot, suffice to say that Elinor finds herself in the most unusual situation that involves her returning to the family seat but, lets just say, in disguise.

There are plenty of elements to this story and they all come together in a lovely way. There’s the family dynamic that relies on a typical Austen theme of certain parties becoming reliant on others. There’s the class element that takes a look at the ridiculous gap between the ‘have and the ‘have nots’ that particularly feeds into a storyline involving one of the downstairs maids.  There’s the romantic element involving a handsome young man who himself has ‘designs’ in mind (although is far too nice to see them through).  There’s the introduction of a glamorous brother and sister who seem to love gossip and enjoy interfering, and of course there’s Elinor, hiding in plain sight and being pulled in different directions whilst maintaining a cool head.

In no particular order what I particularly enjoyed about this.

The plot builds slowly but surely to a very satisfying and dramatic finale.

The central character is really easy to like and is a warm and caring female who finds herself in an absolute pickle of a situation.

The dragon is a wonderful element to the book and the fantasy element is so seamlessly woven into this Regency story.  Forget bonnets and ribbons – dragons are it (and seriously who can blame anyone – I would love a little affectionate shoulder dragon).

There are plenty of satisfying hints of Austen and yet enough originality to give this a slightly more modern feel with more accessible language and a few twisted tropes.

I loved the particular element (that I won’t mention) that finally gave the Aunt enough backbone to stand up to her tyrannical husband.  I loved the route this storyline went down and the final way it played out. Huzzah!

The writing is excellent.

In conclusion, a fun, sometimes crazy always enjoyable, Regency romance with a delightful dash of dragons.

I received a copy from the author for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

My rating 4 of 5 stars

Don’t forget to check out the Critiquing Chemist’s review here.


2 Responses to “#SPFBO 8 Finalist Friday: Review for Scales and Sensibility by Stephanie Burgis”

  1. maddalena@spaceandsorcery

    I also enjoyed this book when I was given the opportunity to read it, and I agree with you: any novel by Ms. Burgis is the perfect choice for those times when we need something that leaves us with good feelings 🙂

  2. Tammy

    I’ve missed you Lynn! I hope you are hanging in there. I’m curious to see reviews of all the finalists, and I’m glad this book is one of them😁

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