This book will take you on an incredible journey
Updated: Aug 15
Darwin's Dragons by Lindsay Galvin, Chicken House, January 2021
Ever wondered what it might have been like to join Charles Darwin on the life-changing and ground-breaking voyage of the Beagle? Darwin's Dragons takes readers to the Galápagos Islands in 1835. Narrated by cabin boy Syms Covington, we see this intriguing landscape through his eyes, and get the opportunity to explore and collect specimens with Darwin. When a storm knocks Covington overboard, readers also experience being shipwrecked and washed up on an exotic island, inhabited by peculiar and fierce beasts.
This is the first book I've ever read by Lindsay Galvin, and I'm in awe of her talent. After finishing Darwin's Dragons, I was an emotional wreck for days. As the story and the writing is so powerful, I felt thoroughly invested in the characters. I missed them after I had finished reading, and I found their fates incredibly moving (I was sobbing for the last 30 pages). Without giving anything away, the book's conclusion was one of the most satisfying I've ever encountered. It's also one of the most vivid, evoking a spectacular image that will stay with me forever.
The characters are just amazing and have been expertly crafted. From Syms to Darwin, Queen Victoria and, of course, the dragons, they are all so believable, compelling and complex. The notes at the back which provide information about the real Syms Covington and Darwin's voyage are fascinating too.
I hadn't been aware that Darwin had waited so long to publish his findings and I had never considered how brave he had been. I really admire him for having the courage to speak against the creationist views of the establishment, and will definitely read more about him. This book has also made me want to visit the Galápagos Islands.
I love how carefully this has been researched to create an entirely plausible plot. I love how inventive Lindsay is with the biology, behaviour and life cycle of the dragons. It's all so convincing and her prose is as magnificent as the mythical creatures it describes. Do yourself a favour and get the paperback edition rather than the ebook. The paperback is stunning with a beautiful design that includes intricate flaps and wonderful artwork by Gordy Wright. Inspired by a remarkable journey, this book is itself an extraordinary achievement.
About the author:
Lindsay Galvin is also the author of young adult novel The Secret Deep. She has a degree in English Language and Literature and is fascinated by psychology and the natural world. A qualified teacher with 20 years' experience, Lindsay is a WriteMentor mentor and the author of their ‘The Anxious Author‘ blog series.