TBR Review: Tea with the Black Dragon by R.A. MacAvoy

tea-with-the-black-dragonTea with the Black Dragon
by R.A. MacAvoy
Series: Black Dragon #1
Genre: Fantasy Mystery
Setting: San Francisco
Published by Open Road Media Sci-Fi and Fantasy, 2014 (originally published 1984)
E-book, purchased
162 pages
Grade: B
Synopsis: Martha Macnamara knows that her daughter Elizabeth is in trouble, she just doesn’t know what kind. Mysterious phone calls from San Francisco at odd hours of the night are the only contact she has had with Elizabeth for years. Now, Elizabeth has sent her a plane ticket and reserved a room for her at San Francisco’s most luxurious hotel. Yet she has not tried to contact Martha since she arrived, leaving her lonely, confused and a little bit worried. Into the story steps Mayland Long, a distinguished-looking and wealthy Chinese man who lives at the hotel and is drawn to Martha’s good nature and ability to pinpoint the truth of a matter. Mayland and Martha become close in a short period of time and he promises to help her find Elizabeth, making small inroads in the mystery before Martha herself disappears. Now Mayland is struck by the realization, too late, that he is in love with Martha, and now he fears for her life. Determined to find her, he sets his prodigious philosopher’s mind to work on the problem, embarking on a potentially dangerous adventure.

She wished she had brought her fiddle. How invigorating to sit down next to the pretzel vendor and play a Bach passacaglia, or maybe a slip jig. Put out the hat. Liz would hate that! Liz behaved with propriety.


“Everyone wants to be a wizard. Every engineer, that is. Goes with unicorns and dragons: but with technical people it’s particularly wizards–a secret fantasy that lies behind all the pin diagrams. It’s really silly, don’t you know? Wizards! But engineers can be really naive about themselves; they think because they can design a pc board and it’s right and it works, that everything they do or believe is going to be just that right.”


  • Martha comes to San Francisco to see her daughter after her daughter Elizabeth asks for help. Martha and Elizabeth aren’t close (Elizabeth doesn’t approve of her mother) so Martha wants to help her, see more of her, but her daughter has disappeared when she arrives in San Francisco.
  • Elizabeth (Liz) is an engineer, very intelligent and she wants to be a power player. So she gets in over her head.
  • This book contains quite a bit about computers which was fun to read about especially since the book was written so long ago (1984).
  • I like that the two main characters are older. Both Mayland and Martha are interesting and fun characters. (I kept calling Mayland “Maryland” in my head–since I live in Maryland that’s what my brain kept trying to tell me…lol)
  • Martha is a free spirit. She’s a happy person though in this book she’s worried about her daughter. She loves music and poetry and isn’t afraid to sleep on someone’s floor.
  • Mayland is something of a philosopher. He has spent years seeking “Truth.”
  • This book has some fantasy elements as well as mystery elements. To me it’s more mystery than fantasy, but it was classified as a fantasy. That is the genre the awards and nominations are from.
  • I like that I could read the book in a day since it’s quite short–Goodreads shows the page count anywhere from 128 to 166 pages. The book felt complete and didn’t need more words!
  • I like that Martha plays the violin. She trained classically, but stopped playing when she had a child. Now she plays a fiddle in an Irish-American band.
  • This is a nice, uncomplicated book. Even though there’s fantasy and mystery and action and Liz is missing, then Martha disappears it’s still mostly a book about Martha and Mayland meeting and falling in love. The computers, mystery, fantasy and action are all fun, but they’re there so the two main characters can get to know each other.


  • I would like to know more about Mayland and black dragons.

And a few thoughts . . .

  • I hadn’t heard of Ms. MacAvoy before coming across this book a couple of years ago. I hope to read the second book she wrote in this series.


  • Locus Award for Best First Novel (1984)
  • Hugo Award Nominee for Best Novel (1984)
  • Nebula Award Nominee for Best Novel (1984)
  • World Fantasy Award Nominee for Best Novel (1984)
  • Philip K. Dick Award Nominee (1984)

Have you read this book? How did you like it?

Author info

  • Roberta Ann (R. A.) MacAvoy is a fantasy and science fiction author in the United States. Several of her books draw on Celtic or Taoist themes. She won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer in 1984. She was born in Cleveland, Ohio. She attended Case Western Reserve University and received a B.A. in 1971. She worked from 1975 to 1978 as an assistant to the financial aid officer of Columbia College of Columbia University and from 1978 to 1982 as a computer programmer at SRI International before turning to full-time writing in 1982. She married Ronald Allen Cain in 1978. (from Wikipedia)

Reading Challenges

  • 2015 Goodreads Challenge
  • Cloak & Dagger Mystery Challenge–hosted by Amy @ A Bookish Girl
  • COYER Scavenger Hunt–hosted by Fantasy is More Fun, Because Reading, and Books, Movies, Reviews.Oh My!
  • COYER–The Scavenger Hunt–#34, Read a book with BLACK in the title (3 pts)
  • New Author Challenge–hosted by the Literary Escapism blog
  • TBR Challenge–hosted by Wendy @ The Misadventures of Super Librarian (Impulse Read (The book you bought because of the cover or The book you bought on impulse–I bought it because of the title!)
  • TBR Pile Challenge–hosted by the Bookish blog
  • Ultimate Reading Challenge–hosted by the Popsugar blog (A book you can finish in a day)