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The Dragons of Heaven

(Missy Masters #1)

3.48  ·  Rating details ·  339 ratings  ·  84 reviews
Missy Masters inherited more than the usual genetic cocktail from her estranged grandfather. She also got his preternatural control of shadows and his enduring legacy as the legendary vigilante superhero, Mr. Mystic.

After a little work, the costume fits OK, but Missy is far from experienced at fighting crime, so she journeys to China to seek the aid of Lung Huang, the anc
Paperback, 416 pages
Published June 2nd 2015 by Angry Robot
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Average rating 3.48  · 
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Shelby *trains flying monkeys*
Apr 09, 2015 rated it did not like it
Shelves: read-2015, netgalley, dnf
Nobody becomes an adventure hero by accident. For me, it started with a revival showing of "Big Trouble in Little China" at the opening of the rebuilt Pagoda Palace in North Beach. Big Trouble ranked as one of my favorite movies of all time, and I roped a crew into going on the strength of my enthusiasm. Who can pass up the chance to see Kurt Russell as Jack Burton? Plus, spunky Kim Catrall. Yowza!
(Yes, Kim Cattrall's name is spelled wrong but my copy is an arc.)

Now this sounds like a fun bo
Oct 20, 2016 rated it it was ok
-Lots of PoC characters, acknowledging that in N. America we live with many different cultures. 5 stars.
-lots of women, doing all sorts of things, talking to one another as friends, saving each other. 5 stars.
-lots of action, so story keeps moving. 4 stars.
-dragons. 4 stars.
-Charlotte's Web reference. 3 stars.
-did I mention there were dragons?

-kind of dumb, big, world-ending plot. 2 stars.
-kind of dumb resolution to world-ending plot. 2 stars.
-a white person has to save all the sp
Apr 20, 2015 rated it did not like it

Publisher: Angry Robot

Publishing Date: June 2015

ISBN: 9780857664341

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 1.5/5

Publisher Description: Street magician Missy Masters inherited more than the usual genetic cocktail from her estranged grandfather. She also got his preternatural control of shadow and his legacy as the vigilante hero, Mr Mystic. Problem is, being a pulp hero takes more than a good fedora and a knack for witty banter, and Missy lacks the one thing Mr Mystic had:
See Read-alikes on The Book Adventures.

In The Dragons of Heaven, Missy Masters is trying to live up to her grandfather's legacy as Mr. Masters, one of the original superheroes of the mid-twentieth century. We are introduced to her present-day struggles to be taken seriously and to defeat a Chinatown crime boss in San Francisco.

The narrative is split between the present-day and some time in Missy's past. It's also split between San Francisco and China. In one plot line, Missy is a superheroine f
Rachel Cotterill
Jun 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
Chinese fantasy with a female superhero masquerading as her grandfather, and a thread of Taoism. This sounded very much my kind of thing, and it was good fun, though I didn't love it the way I hoped I would. The plot weaves between two timelines ("then" and "now") in a way that was sometimes confusing, as the two plots had a number of things in common (not least the same antagonist), but at the same time I think these echoes and connections are kind of the point. Good fun. ...more
Peter Tieryas
Sep 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A really fun book combining shadow magic, dragons, Asian culture, and some interesting characters.

"The space to think was a little less welcome when it turned out to be the same prison of misery I'd stayed in the last time I'd been to Shanghai... Was I seriously considering bearding the dragon in his lair? Again? With less of a plan than last time?"

It's a fast read and I can't wait to dive into the second book!
Apr 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
From my review for

The Dragons of Heaven is a fun read. It is a genre blend that combines urban fantasy with folkloric myth, the superhero comic, romance, and the complex family dynamics featured in ‘mainstream’ fiction. There is magical action driving the plot aplenty, there are moments of humor and pop culture reference. But there are also great doses of introspection, of character development for Missy, and deep themes at its core.

I particularly appreciated the way Helms wr
This is something a bit different: a mashup of the superhero, martial arts and fantasy genres, with a touch of thriller for flavour. I enjoyed it, although the dual timeframe structure only just worked, and it needed better copy editing.

Let's get the copy editing out of the way first. One of the reasons that people publish with trad publishers like Angry Robot is presumably so that they can get editorial input that they couldn't afford to pay for. I don't know how much developmental editing thi
Apr 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
Obligatory disclaimer: I know the author. Which certainly influenced how eager I was to read the book, but shouldn't much affect what I did or didn't enjoy about it. But add as many grains of salt to this review as you see fit.

So, let's start off with a minor niggle: there are a lot of characters to keep track of in this book, and some of them are mentioned before you've really properly "met" them in the narrative. My advice? Don't sweat it. Everything will be explained in due course - just foc
Debra Martin
Jun 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I was first drawn to this book by the cover especially the dragon overlay. The story follows Missy Masters, a vigilante hero who assumes the guise of Mr. Mystic which was her grandfather's legacy. She roams the city correcting wrongs when she can, but there's more to Missy than her control of Shadows. To truly come into her powers, Missy travels to China, falls in love with her teacher Lung Haung, and becomes embroiled in politics of the nine dragon guardians of creation.

Ms. Helms tells the stor
Cae Hawksmoor
Jun 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
I really rather enjoyed this! I normally don't go in for stuff that's mostly light with some humour thrown in, but I think a mixture of the characters and a need to know what happened next kept me coming back to it.

Personally, I loved the 'Now'/'Then' structure of the narrative, which meant I was always reading on to find out what happened next on one side of the time jump or another. I could have done with having some indication of the main character's age in the 'Now' quite early in the narra
Nov 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I was suprised by the romance/emotion that developed. But it was very well done and many times I got extremely attached. Also said "that's not fair!" many times on behalf of the protagonist. Looking for the next book right now.


I'm now very sad to see book 2 is not out yet. This is why I only read completed series. waiting kills me.
Feb 11, 2016 added it
Shelves: owned, dnf
I love urban fantasy, but this book just wasn't for me. Over the past few days I've picked it up, read a page or two and set it back down. Also the font was too small to read comfortably.
I'm sorry. I tried.
As I said this book wasn't for me, but that doesn't mean you won't enjoy it. Give it a try.
♠ TABI⁷₈⁷ ♠
Jul 09, 2019 marked it as to-read
kung fu and dragons?? I like
You can already guess that a dragon in a book title and on the cover meant instant interest from me. When I started reading I didn’t expect much, but The Dragons of Heaven exceeded my expectations.


* Interesting setting. I always like to read about a world where super-heroes exist. Blame it on that little girl who watched in awe as Superman jumped over the tallest building. And Alyc Helms is more optimistic than Brandon Sanderson in Steelheart, people with super-powers are not all villains
May 31, 2015 rated it it was ok
Originally posted on Roberta's Literary Ramblings

I received this as an ARC from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Overall Impression: It could have been much better.

Recommended for: Those who enjoy fantasy with a smattering of Chinese culture. That's who it's written for but I personally wouldn't recommend it.

As I said above, this book could have been so much better. It had the bones for something really great, but the presentation wasn't quite up to par. I didn't
Beth Cato
Apr 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I loved the heck out of this. I've read over a hundred urban fantasy novels and it's so easy for me to pick one up now and think, "I think I've read something really close to this before." Not so with The Dragons of Heaven. It feels like a combination of martial arts movie and superhero tale and urban fantasy, and that blend works very well.

Missy Masters is a superhero on the streets of San Francisco. Her heroic alter-ego is actually the hero Mr. Mystic--the persona created by her grandfather. S
Andrea Blythe
Mar 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fic-fantasy, fiction
Missy Masters has the power to control shadows and uses this power to play a role as the vigilante superhero, Mr. Mystic. When a magical barrier suddenly appears around all of China and all of the official China towns of the world, it's up to her to find a way to take down the barrier — a challenge that leads her back into the past she left behind.

The book mixes up superhero novel with martial arts movies and dragon mythology in a fun, action packed urban fantasy. Where it differs from similar
Sarah (Workaday Reads)
I wanted to love this book because it has a cool, and original sounding premise. There are super heroes, with dragons, and Asian myth lore, told through a female protagonist. Unfortunately, it’s told using a dual now and then narration that felt more like 2 different people.

The story starts with the now narrative, but it’s very confusing as to who everyone is, and what’s happening. Most of this is explained in the then narrative, but since the two narratives switch back and forth throughout the
Elaine Aldred
May 01, 2015 rated it liked it
Missy Masters has inherited her grandfather’s ability to control shadows. It is an inheritance that made her to seek out and find Lung Huang who once mentored her grandfather. When Lung Huang’s brother and enemy raises a magical barrier cutting off China from the rest of the world, Missy has to attempt to take it down and in the process make some tough decisions.
The idea that Missy’s career as an adventure hero began at a revival showing of ‘Big Trouble in Little China’, immediately brought to m
Nov 30, 2015 rated it it was ok
I got terribly excited about this book. Promised a kick-ass female taking up the mantle of her grandfather's hero persona. And it delivered for the first several chapters. I might even have agreed that there was a "Big Trouble in Little China" vibe to it. But then it lost its head of steam. I finished it because I kept wanting it to return to the energy I enjoyed in the first few chapter. Sadly, I don't feel it ever recovered. A shame too...I really like the basic idea and think it had a promisi ...more
Nov 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
This was an enjoyable superhero/urban fantasy debut. Set in San Francisco and China, the characterization in this played with a lot of expectations and stereotypes in interesting ways, which was good. The magic was strange, which I think is somewhat intentional, because it's strange even to Missy, the main character. I think it could have used another 10 pages or so detailing the relationship of the Argents to the rest of... well... everyone. But hopefully that will be in book two. The romance w ...more
Sep 03, 2015 rated it did not like it
Warning: so-called "synopsis" of the book does not remotely prepare you for what it's ACTUALLY about. Deceived and disappointed.

I hate it when the awesome superhero book you think you're reading turns into a draco-political power struggle that centers around the protagonist getting pregnant with demigod twins whose entire purpose is as little more than bargaining chips in a poorly-conceived (did you see what I did there?) plot that spends more time on elaborate christening ceremonies than anythi
Conna Condon
Jan 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
So good I read it twice .... and am now eagerly awaiting Conclave to see how the story continues. The author has a wonderful way with words. There were times when I could not put the book down. I love the approach of getting to know Missy first as she is today (now) and then learning about how she came to be (then) cleverly weaving her past with her present. It so matches to how we learn about new people in our lives. I'm looking forward to Mr Mystic being in my life for many stories.
Rebecca Rosenberg
Well that was incredibly fun. I loved falling into the complex world in which this story exists, and I'm excited to see what comes next for Mr. Mystic.(And Missy Masters. And Skyrocket. I want more Skyrocket.) I definitely felt like the book gained steam as it went along, and I read the last four chapters without putting the book down. ...more
Jan 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This was fun. Then it got to be more fun. Then it was whoo this is fun what's going to happen now? And guess what, at the end I thought that was fun, too. But also rewarding and interesting, with lots of weird, inventive, and substantial surprises to keep me well entertained. Now I want #2. ...more
Apr 09, 2015 marked it as to-read
*Recvd via NetGalley 04/09/2015* Expected publication: June 2nd 2015 by Angry Robot
Emily Park
Sep 14, 2018 rated it liked it
tl;dr: fun book, interesting characters, sometimes confusing plot, and potential issues with the "white savior rescues the Asians" narrative. Will probably read the sequel.

So, first the good things about this book:
~Fun take on the superhero genre!
~Some great female characters - I generally really liked the character Missy and her numerous female friends.
~Interesting mythology
~Generally interesting plot with plenty of twists. Plot is divided into "Now" and "Then" timelines in alternating chapter
Mar 20, 2018 rated it liked it
I wish things had progressed more linearly - rather than the constant jumping back and forth between present and past. I can kind of see why, allowing exposition in chunks to give you an overall sense of everything (maybe?), but it still made things super disjointed and allowed for a lot of things to just be left out. Like just skipping entire scenes that I felt just might be kind of important (view spoiler) ...more
Jon Kaneko-James
Jun 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
Excellent book -- I bought the follow-up immediately and spent two hours reading it when I'd intended to be working.

I will admit, I was slightly stalled by a series of long flashbacks starting at roughly the 40% mark. Partly because they came at a point where the narrative was clipping along very well and slowed things down, partly because I got a feel for where they were heading, which made the whole thing feel (initially) like an exercise in the inevitable.

With that said, once the flashback
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Alyc Helms prefers tea (especially a really smoky Lapsang Souchong) over all other beverages. They studied folklore and anthropology what feels like a lifetime ago, and they dabble in corsetry and costuming, dance Scottish Highland and Irish Ceili at Renaissance and Dickens fairs, and game in all forms of media. They sometimes refer to their work as “critical theory fanfic,” which is a fancy way t ...more

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Missy Masters (2 books)
  • The Conclave of Shadow (Missy Masters, #2)

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