Escaping Peril is the eighth book in the Wings of Fire series, which you do need to read before getting to this one as the story is pretty much continuous throughout the novels. Wings of Fire is a middle-grade series, suitable for those youngsters just starting to read chapterbooks, and is absolutely delightful. I devoured the seven books that were out one Saturday back in August of last year.
The books follow a group of dragonets who believe themselves to be the dragonets of prophecy and destined to end the war between the races of dragons. Each book is told from the POV of a different dragonet. The story of the war, and the first five dragonets, is wrapped up in book five and book six opens with a new set of dragonets and slowly introduces a new prophecy. This book follows Peril, and tells mostly her story, while still advancing the major plot that arcs through the second five books.
I love these books a lot and think they’re really quite excellent middle-grade novels. They’re fairly simplistic, as they should be for younger readers, but Sutherland never bashes the reader over the head with the themes she wants to explore. And she goes to some fairly dark places, which might pass over the heads of some younger readers but it will help those who need it. Peril, for example, is definitely the victim of emotional abuse, it’s never explicit but anyone who is in that situation is going to empathize with her and see how she learns to draw her strength not from her abusive parent figure but from her friends. She’s a loud, outspoken, brash, and occasionally unpleasant dragon to be around, but she’s still accepted by a few of her fellow dragons. Peril’s story is also a redemption story. That abusive parent figure is one of the villains of the novels and Peril was her minion for a portion of the story, and because of the love that Peril has for this dragon she makes mistakes and does really wicked things.
One more quick note, scattered throughout each novel is a quick reference to the scavengers. The dragons view scavengers as stupid, silly prey animals. But the readers can tell they’re humans. And it’s been really fun to see how humans react to these dragons, from the POV of dragons.
I absolutely recommend this book, and not just this novel but the entire series. If you’ve got young readers, or are looking for a good bedtime novel, I do think you should give this one a go.