Rise of the Dragon Moon, by Gabrielle K. Byrne

Rise of the Dragon Moon, by Gabrielle K. Byrne (Macmillan, August 6, 2019), is a delightfully chilly middle-grade fantasy that's perfect escapist reading for a hot summer day!

Princess Toli is heir to the throne of a queendom of ice.  Her people live a hand to mouth existence, with starvation always a grim possibility, and the cyclical migrations of the dragons a grim certainty.  Toli hates the dragons.  Not only must her people offer a precious tithe of meat to them each year, but in an unprecedented fluke, dragons killed her father.  And Toli blames herself..

Toli's mother, the queen, wants Toli to set aside her dreams of being a great hunter like her father, though Toli has little interest in the minutia of keeping the queendom running smoothly.  But she gets little chance to obey her mother.  When this year's Dragon Moon rises, and the Queen must go out to meet the dragons, they seize her and carry her off.  Toli is convinced she must set out herself over the ice to bring her mother back.

In her first foray out on the ice alone, she finds a baby dragon, and confronts the two dragons that are searching for it, with seemingly malevolent intent.  Toli's hatred of the adult dragons ends up making her want to protect the hatchling, who the queen dragon wants back, from the adults.  The baby dragon proves impossible to hide from her younger sister Petal and her best friend, a boy named Wix, who find it charming, and grudgingly Toli warms to it as well.  And perhaps, she thinks, she can trade the baby for her mother.

Toli plans to set out to find the dragon queen alone, because of her feelings that she must atone for her father's death but her sister and friend won't let her, though she is harsh and dismissive about what they can contribute.  Iti's a good thing they both come, because Toli and the baby dragon would never have made it alone!  And when they reach Dragon Mountain, they find themselves confronted by the beginnings of a dragon civil war.   The stakes of the conflict are high for both humans and dragons--wll they be able to work together, or will they try to destroy each other?

All ends well, with lots of ground laid for new adventures for Toli and the little dragon...

It's a very good read, with the excitements of danger out on the ice and in the sky well-balanced by Toli's internal turmoil and character growth.  She has to learn to put her past actions in perspective, and to let others help her, and she realistically does so, realizing by the end that it's not all about her.  The baby dragon is cute as all get out, and will add tons of appeal for the target audience!

Though there is some grimness to the story, it's not wildly violent, and though there are depths to the story telling, the actual plot is fairly linear, so it's one that would be just fine for the whole range of "middle grade"- 9-12 year olds, and good as well for even younger confident readers.  And good too for us grownups sitting around in the heat wanting to be out in the bitter cold wind blowing across the ice...or flying above it on dragon-back.....

(I have just one very picky, very personal, thing I didn't care for--Toli is short for Anatolia, and her little sister is named Petal.  Neither name worked for me, the first because it's a real world place, and the second because petals have no place in an icy world.)

disclaimer: review copy received from the publisher.

1 comment:

  1. I have some young friends who love this kind of book. Thanks for telling me about it.


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