Dragon's Green, by Scarlett Thomas--fantasy for bibliophiles

Life has been too busy of late, and I find myself wishing that some day I will say to myself "wow that took less time to complete than I thought it would" instead of saying other things not fit for young ears.

But though I have not been blogging much, I have been reading, and today I finished Dragon's Green, by Scarlett Thomas (Simon & Schuster, May 2017) , a charming middle grade fantasy.  It is not, as the title suggests, all about a dragon, although there is a dragon in one episode within the main story.  It is not entirely, as other reviews might suggest, about a group of children who find they have magical powers and learn to use them and work together to defeat a bad magical guy. Although this does happen, and they are a pleasantly interesting group of kids, each of whom has their own magical object that plays to the strengths of their personality and inclinations (so the athletic one gets a sword, the one who is interested in learning things gets magical glass, Effie, the central character, gets the hero's ring, etc.).  And although no dramatic new ground is broken in their adventures, it was fine reading.

Here's where this book is different--though the kids are in danger from the villain, who never quite manages to kill them, it is really a collection of rare books that it is in the greatest danger!  The books belonged to Effie's grandfather, who dies near the beginning of the story leaving them to her in his will,  Her father will only let her keep one. And now the books have been bought by a villainous "antiquarian book seller" who in fact is hellbent on using the magic of the books to achieve (basically) world domination, which involves destroying the books!  The danger to the books was clear by page 30, and I had to turn to the end to see if the books would be safe.  Scarlett Thomas is a nice author, and she carefully wrote her ending so that a quick glance lets you know the books are ok without giving away anything else of much importance (the kids are ok too, but whatever. It was safe to assume they were.  But in a world where some authors (naming no names) kill puppies, one can't assume the books will make it....)

So in short, I enjoyed it, and appreciated the book tension very much!  The magical gifts of the kids and the magical otherworld were a bit to magically special, but that's probably just me being a grown up and not a problem the target audience will  have.  I think the target audience should love it all just fine.

Kirkus is more enthusiastic than me, perhaps because Kirkus hasn't just spent weeks doing hard labor, assorted thankless tasks, and a wide variety of cat-herding activities while holding down a day job-- "In vivid, inviting prose, Thomas deftly evokes an original, intriguing post-technological Earth looming with evil where 'books are magic' and memorable misfits become heroes. A compelling new fantasy series with an unlikely heroine, quirky helpers, dragons, portals, witches, and wizards."

1 comment:

  1. If I were going to judge a book by its cover, this is one I would be buying right away. What a beautiful cover! It sounds like one I would like even though I'm not much of a fantasy reader. Thanks for the review.


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