Wednesday 4 December 2019

Book Review: Tears of the Dragon by Jean Moran

Last Updated: 11 October 2021

Tears of the Dragon by Jean Moran book cover

AD* | One sultry evening in Kowloon, Dr Rowena Rossiter and Sister Alice Huntley are off-duty and in search of fun – little knowing that their world is on the brink of collapse.

That night, Rowena will meet two men who will fight for her heart for the next four years. Connor O'Connor, the rebellious Irish soldier, who will woo and then lose her, and Kim Pheloung. Immensely rich and the most beautiful man Rowena has ever seen, he is also the most ruthless, with a sinister need to possess and control.

When the Japanese invasion leaves this previously strong and independent woman raped and broken, who will succeed in claiming Rowena's body and soul? And will she ever learn to love the child born of that terrible Christmas Day?

This sweeping historical saga is set against the backdrop of the war. Tears of the Dragon shows the real, human impact of the war on the Far East, with the lives of people on both sides torn apart and countless individuals facing a struggle just to survive.

The book does not shy away from the horrific atrocities of the war, from disease and death to imprisonment, brutality, and utter devastation. All of these things are present in the story, helping to paint a realistic picture of what these people experienced. They might be fictional, but some of the characters' stories are heartbreaking.

I enjoyed the attention to detail shown in the descriptions of the locations present in the story; it's clear that Tears of the Dragon has a real sense of place throughout. The opulent extravagance of Kim Pheloung's properties is juxtaposed against the stark bleakness of the prisoner camps, where every last scrap is saved and reused. These smaller settings are located against the bustling backdrop of a vibrant, characterful city, shadowed by the larger grimness of the war.

However, despite this, I struggled to get into the book and found the plot unengaging and the characters shallow and uninspiring. The plot seemed to jump around all over the place, skipping through extended periods of time without a care for the timeline of the narrative. Additionally, I felt the introduction was rushed, while later parts of the story were dull and could easily have been whittled down. The story introduces multiple narrators, too, which further adds to the confusion and loss of an established timeline.

When it comes to the characters, I found Rowena, the main character, to be selfish and contradictory. She continually disregards the opinions and input of those around her and always puts her own shallow desires above anyone else, despite being a doctor. Her mind seemed to change from one page to the next, making it difficult to establish a meaningful connection with her as a character. A real shame, yet at least she escaped being as flat and two-dimensional as her love interests, Connor O'Connor and Kim Pheloung.

Despite its promise and wonderful scene-setting, I found Tears of the Dragon to be a disappointing read overall.

Rating: 2 stars

Tears of the Dragon is available to buy now.

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* I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

Will you be reading the book? Let me know in the comments below!


  1. Shame it was such a disappointing read. I always feel let down if a book doesn't live up to expectation

  2. What a shame! From your intro I thought this sounded like a book I would want to read. I definitely won't be bothering now, thanks for your honesty.

  3. Like Sarah, I thought your intro painted a much more interesting book than the rest of your review, what a shame. It must have taken a lot of research to get all those details right then spoil it with the characters and plot.