The Dark Secret (Wings of Fire, Book 4), by Tui T. Sutherland

The Wings of Fire series tells of five young dragonets, taken from their various clans of dragon kind while they were still unhatched, and raised to believe that they were the Dragonets of Destiny, who would bring piece to the war torn world.  Each book is told from the point of view of one of the dragonets, and now, in the fourth book, The Dark Secret (Scholastic 2013), it's Starflight's turn.

Starflight is a Nightwing--mysterious dragons with strange powers and suspicious secrets.  Starflight hasn't yet manifested any powers, and all his life he's hungered for knowledge, and worried that he's not brave enough to help his friends bring the prophesied peace to fruition.   As the book begins, he's been taken by the Nightwings to their island home.  But it's not the place of happy learning he'd hoped it would be.  Instead, the Nightwings are savagely plotting to conquer the land of the Rainwing dragons, to make a new home for themselves there.  And they want Starflight to help them, by betraying his friends, including Glory, his fellow Dragonet of Destiny and the new Rainwing queen.

This is a GREAT series to offer your handy nine or ten year old--it is immensely popular in my son's reading circle, which includes both boys and girls.  There is violence, and some gruesome deaths and maimings, but it is not gratuitous (parental discretion is advised, though, if you have a younger child who isn't ready for very vividly awful dragon deaths).   It has to be real, and bad, in order for the efforts of the Dragonets to be meaningful, and it succeeds with vengeance in this regard!  What I appreciate most is that although there is plenty of action and adventure, character is front and center.  In The Dark Secret, for instance, the focus is on the dilemmas and challenges faced by Starflight as he tries to be worthy of his friends, while trying to thwart the Nightwing plot.

To quote from my review of the first book, The Dragonet Prophecy: "what pleased even cynical me most was that there were themes here that I was happy to have my son think about--loyalty to friends transcending blind loyalty to tribe, the need to empathize with other points of view, the need to try your best to shape your own destiny, and not be someone's tool, and the senselessness of war."  These themes are still there, and still set in a truly exciting story.

The revelations of this book give fresh urgency to the waiting for the next book....me and my ten-year-old are both desperate for book five now!

In the meantime, there is a whole Wings of Fire wiki community to explore, with fan art, forums, etc.  This makes me smile, because when when I reviewed the first book, I wrote:  "this is a series that absolutely cries out for a website, with all the information about the different types of dragon expanded, and legends of the different dragon tribes, and little stories about the characters when they were babies, and printable pictures of the dragons etc."

disclaimer:  review copy received from the publisher

1 comment:

  1. I have been very impressed with Tui T. Sutherland's work; it has enormous kid appeal. I have the sensitive sort of nine-year-old who would find the dragon deaths hard to take (me, too, actually), but absolutely adores Sutherland's Pet Trouble books. Great to hear about the wiki community!


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