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Dragon's Bait

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  7,619 ratings  ·  403 reviews
Fifteen-year-old Alys is not a witch. But that doesn't matter—the villagers think she is and have staked her out on a hillside as a sacrifice to the local dragon. It's late, it's cold, and it's raining, and Alys can think of only one thing—revenge. But first she's got to escape, and even if she does, how can one girl possibly take on an entire town alone? Then the dragon a ...more
Paperback, 196 pages
Published April 1st 2003 by HMH Books for Young Readers (first published September 1st 1992)
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Kelsey A mature middle school or high school student. It would also be a fun quick read for adults, as it deals with questions of corruption, sexism, adulter…moreA mature middle school or high school student. It would also be a fun quick read for adults, as it deals with questions of corruption, sexism, adultery, murder, and vengeance. The story itself is a clean adventure, without rape, sex, swearing, or unnecessary violence. A younger audience would enjoy the story and an older audience would enjoy the deeper ideals.(less)
Fazilat No, it doesn't. The story is concluded in the end. …moreNo, it doesn't. The story is concluded in the end. (less)
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Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.93  · 
Rating details
 ·  7,619 ratings  ·  403 reviews

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Nov 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: epic
I wish there was a sequel.
Oct 11, 2011 rated it really liked it
Looking back at this, it seems that Twilight has been an exceptionally bad influence on teenage fantasy. Dragon's Bait fits many of the parameters of paranormal romance, which is notoriously bad, but it's also a coming-of-age story. And that's much better than any gorgeous, powerful piece of arm candy making up most of the plot.

Though there is Selendrile. He's a dragon who can change into human form - and an exceptionally good-looking human form - and is given plot-related reasons to travel with
Oh book, why you make me so torn?

I first heard about Dragon’s Bait through this piece on Entertainment Weekly about unmissable teen reads. And because it was an older title and because the Publishers Weekly review (which I sought after I read the EW article) said it is a “thoughtful mainstream fantasy with a gently feminist slant”, I decided I needed to read it soon.

Basically, the story follows a young girl, fifteen-year-old Alys, as she is accused of being a witch by her neighbours and summaril
Apr 02, 2009 rated it it was ok
Published in 1992, this book suffers from the "this book is for young adults so it must be short" mentality that existed back then. And therefore, the characters are not as well developed as I would have liked. In her review for School Library Journal, Margaret Chang observed "While the writing is smooth and the story moves quickly, the girl's emotions are not convincingly portrayed. The story's tone wobbles, sometimes keeping a comic distance from tragic events. The abrupt ending may leave read ...more
Maddie Senator
Sep 30, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This was a choice little find in my school library back in tenth grade, and it's been a favorite ever since! I love, love, love Selendrile, and I wish I could meet someone like him! The story is compelling, but not too long, and luckily it doesn't have a sequel. It's nice to have a stand-alone book sometimes!
I was also pleased that it had a good lesson. Fifteen or sixteen year old Alys is falsely accused of being a witch by neighbors and sentenced to death by dragon. They tie her to a big pole
Jan 11, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: young-adult
I've read a few short YA books lately, most of which have been good. This one is the shortest of any of them, and it is also good, but lacks the depth that the other books have. The dragon character doesn't have much of a personality at all, and the girl accused of being a witch is driven only by revenge. I was waiting for the part where the girl realized that revenge doesn't make you feel any better, but I don't think she really got to that point, not truly. I still don't understand why the dra ...more
3.95 Stars!
I'm sure you'll be asking yourselves why not a 4? Well, I will explain in my review intensely!

The blurb is pretty clear, but I'll take the time to remind you of what this story is about. It's about feelings, cultures, and people mostly.

The story itself is about our MC Alys who's been accused of being a witch. So as all nasty peasants/villagers do, instead of burning her at the stake, they offer her as a sacrifice to a dragon on a hillside. She waits for her doom and yet fate has other
Jen (The Starry-Eyed Revue)
I just happened to be scrolling through GR or Twitter and saw someone mention this book, and I couldn't believe I hadn't read it before. It sounded awesome! And it pretty much was. Basically, this girl is called a witch because the townspeople are awful and so she becomes food for a dragon who's been terrorizing them. Except that her brazenness makes the dragon curious and they become allies in revenge. I would not call them friends and there is definitely no romance to speak of, but that's not ...more
Mar 24, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Adolescent Readers Who Enjoy Dragon Fantasy
When fifteen-year-old Alys is accused of witchcraft by a jealous neighbor determined to force her father to sell his land, the villagers of Saint Toby stake her to the mountainside as a sacrifice to the local dragon. Selendrile, a dragon who can assume human form, has no interest in eating maidens, but he does offer to join Alys in a quest for revenge against the villagers, and Atherton, the false priest who condemned her. So begins a partnership that deepens into friendship, as Alys learns that ...more
Jul 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
4.5 ⭐️

religious fanaticism, misogyny (challenged), death, grief, violence.

Oh, this was good. This is a book you can finish under an hour but it is really brilliant in the few pages the book holds. I loved the characters and I loved the witty banter they had between each other. There's a lot to be said about the themes in the book, there's discussions about humanity and who the real monster is. I recommend this to anyone who likes light fantasy and fun characters!
Taylor Spooner
Mar 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
What I liked about the book was that there was a lot of good scenes in each chapter. I also liked how the girl was able to be near a dragon without the dragon eating her. What I didn't like about the book was that there wasn't that many graphic scenes in the books that I have read before. ...more
Karyn Kar Mun (Thy Evil Queen)
There is a big difference between
- A romance written in a fantasy setting; and
- A fantasy novel with romance in it.
Most authors do not write a well-balanced story with both elements – to use a famous example, Harry Potter is heavy on the fantasy and very light on the romance. (Unless, of course, if you’re reading fanfiction.)

Dragon’s Bait is neither. It is a story of a girl and a dragon, and as a fantasy novel it is a total fail, because the world-building was not well thought out at all.
- Yo
Jamie Collins
Oct 09, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy, young-adult
I enjoy stories like this one. Not necessarily stories where the maiden is rescued by a handsome, mysterious hero, but those where help comes from an unexpected quarter - where someone who's supposed to be an enemy turns out to be a friend. I also like a turn-about, where the weaker party is called upon to do some rescuing of the stronger.

So theme-wise, I'm fine with this book. There's simply not enough to it. I don't read a lot of YA novels, but I did recently enjoy the only other Velde book I'
Jackie "the Librarian"
Aug 21, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Teens who like Tamora Pierce
Alys is an independent girl running her father's shop during his illness, when she is accused of being a witch by her neighbors, who really just want her shop. She is tied up outside the village and left for the dragon that has been rampaging to eat.
But when he arrives, instead of eating Alys, he offers her a chance to take revenge on her enemies. Should Alys take the dragon up on his offer? Wouldn't it be ironic if she ended up committing the crimes she has already been found guilty of doing?
Not your usual fantasy tropes - what happens when the girl staked out for the dragon to eat, insteads joins forces with him to get revenge on her tormentors?
This quite good (albeit short) book.
I really enjoyed how the author did not 'humanize' the dragon, but instead constantly reminded the reader how alien he was, how he did not think like a human.
I definitely read more adventures of Alys and Selandrine.
Sep 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I really wish there was a sequel! This book was so good! However, I have NEVER in all my life felt so unsatisfied at the end of the book, and I am a very avid reader (like I read a book a day). Please, Vivian, WRITE A SEQUEL! Pretty please? There is so much more that needs to be told for this story. :)
Mar 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
I read this quite a while ago - probably when I was in middle school, and all I can remember is... loved it!
Jul 15, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: book-brigade
Overall it was a good book and I enjoyed myself. It was a quick read but perhaps too quick as I felt that all the problems were resolved really quickly. I also felt like the characters were one dimensional even the dragon which is a shame. The main character had no substance to her in my opinion as she was only focused on one thing and when that thing was done the book ended. There seemed to be some sort of chemistry happening with the dragon and the main character but before that could be flesh ...more
Lara Mi

“How would the dragon kill her? Perhaps she would be less afraid if she figured out just what to expect. A blast of flame? Not likely, she decided.”

Going into this one, I didn't have high expectations. Then I found that I like the characters and writing. And then, Dragon's Bait ended up disappointing me after all.

Alys is quite the spunky character given that this is a medieval-themed setting - her sarcasm is great. I also enjoy characters who are able to show both fear and courage. Serendile,
Mar 06, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: x-tbr-owned
Not the author's best. Reads like a genre Romance for 'tweens. Alys is such a princess; sure, sometimes she thinks about and even says independent or smart things, but basically it's a good thing she's got someone to rescue her. Slight & superficial. ...more
Magadored wants to extrude your face normals
To sum up this book: Patronizing, moralistic, boring characterization.

Featuring an annoying male lead, Selendrile is a typical pretty boy with exotic magical features. With long white-blonde hair and purple eyes, his true form is that of a big-spankin' lizard. He's ever so knowing, without ever indicating it is what he's supposed to know, but that just adds to his mystical allure.

Entirely unlikeable, Selendrile is borderline abusive with our female lead, Alys. He enjoys: hauling her off withou
Alys is framed for witchcraft and sentenced to dragon. The dragon, however, offers vengeance, not death.

This is the second or third book by Vivian Vande Velde which I've read. All have been (very short) competent fantasies which haven't worked for me.

In this particular outing, we have a typical story about revenge - which is basically (view spoiler)
Nicko Moknu
May 15, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult, fantasy
It took me a day and a half to finish this book. It was short, i think it was the shortest fantasy book I've ever read.

It's a standalone and as such it is entertaining as a light read, it lacks depth.
This is what I think happened: this book came out in the period where fantasy was more marginalized than SF (can you tell I'm not a SF lover at all?) and during this time it was thought that children and teens have the attention span of mice so fantasy novels that exceeded 450 pages were considered
Nov 05, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult
He refused to release her hands until she looked at him again. He smiled, but this time the amusement didn't reach his eys. "It is not often," he said in a voice that was soft and husky but well within the norms of a human of his --apparent-- age and build, "that I find a damsel flinging rocks at me." He paused as though considering and slowly added, "It happened once with a knight, but I'd already eaten his horse and most of his weapons. The squire, too, as I recall." He tipped his head slightl ...more
Apr 01, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2009-reads
This is one of the best books that I have read in a long time. Alys is accused of witchcraft and therefor left, tied up, on a mountain by the people of her village, to be eaten by the small dragon roaming nearby. She gets free before she sees the dragon and wonders what to do. Then she see's the dragon. She kind of wants to get this over with so she starts throwing rocks at it to get it's attention. The dragon soars over andturns into a 17-year-old man, Selendrile. Instead of eating her, he offe ...more
Katelyn Harper
Dec 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing
To this day, Dragon's Bait is one of my absolute favorite books. I don't even know how many times I've read it, delighted by it each time.
Basically a young girl, Alys, is accused of being a witch and as her punishment, she is "sacrificed" to the dragon. The dragon, Selendrile, has no interest in eating her; he's actually amused by her overwhelming desire for revenge. He then agrees to help her plan out her revenge on the town that falsely declared her to be a witch.
While reading Dragon's Bait,
Oct 18, 2015 rated it liked it
The townspeople are convinced Alys is a witch after people accuse her of suspicious behaviour around the village. She is taken up to the hills and offered to the dragon. At first I was intrigued by how Alys would obtain her justice. I didn't expect it to come in the form of help from a boy with pale hair and amethyst eyes who could shape-shift into any animal. The dragon form was seriously underutilised in the book! I guess I expected any story with a dragon to have some epic fight scene or some ...more
Jul 27, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, ya
Alys is a young girl in a medieval village like any other--until she's abruptly accused of being a witch and staked out on a hillside to appease a dragon. Furious at the betrayal, she makes a deadly deal with the dragon--she'll help him and he'll kill the villagers. Their travels together bring them to a better understanding of each other's prickly natures, but the final reckoning looms... ...more
Jan 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
I have read this book over and over, probably dozens of times since I first picked it up in high school.
I love the style, even if it has its faults, and it is one of my favorite cozy comfort books when I need something to cheer me up, or need something easy after a particularly dark or daunting book.
Jul 22, 2019 rated it it was ok
I'm trying to take into consideration that this is a children's book as I write my review. The book was an incredibly fast read. I finished it in one sitting.

As for the story, I think what stuck out to me the most while reading is how incredibly bare bones it was. We know nothing that is not incredibly vital information -there's not really any world building and both the setting and list of characters are so tight that the world, despite having magic and dragons, feels very closed and small. Ad
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Vivian Vande Velde (born 1951, currently residing in Rochester, New York) is an American author who writes books primarily aimed at young adults.

Her novels and short story collections usually have some element of horror or fantasy, but are primarily humorous. Her book Never Trust a Dead Man (1999) received the 2000 Edgar Award for Best Young Adult Novel. She says that she really likes to write for

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“That's very kind of you," she said bitterly, for she no longer believed in kindness. "And you're willing to do this...why? Because you're fond of helping others?"

"I'm fond of revenge," the dragon answered.”
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