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Middle Grade Novel Spotlight Post – The Last Dragon by James Riley

THE LAST DRAGON

By James Riley

Book #2 of The Revenge of Magic

(Aladdin; $18.99, Ages 8-12)

The Last Dragon book cover

 

MY TAKE:

Perfect for fans of Dungeons and Dragons and Stranger Things, THE LAST DRAGON went on sale this past Monday, Oct. 8. This is the second novel, which can be read as a standalone, in New York Times bestselling author James Riley’s thrilling new series The Revenge of Magic.

When I read that this particular installment was “packed with mystery, magic, and mayhem sure to keep readers guessing until the very end,” I was intrigued and couldn’t wait to get started. In doing so I was rewarded with an action-packed story that introduced me to likeable and not-so-likeable characters, the Oppenheimer School for magical training, and an assortment of creatures and adventures that kept me turning the pages of this new middle grade fantasy. I don’t often read the second book in a series without having read the first, but was immediately swept into the main character Fort’s quest to rescue his father who had been taken by evil beings called the Old Ones in an attack on the National Mall in D.C.

Once I was eager to know what would happen to Fort and his friends Jia, Rachel, Cyrus and Sierra, I also became invested in the dangerous and risky journey being planned. When a new student, Gabriel, was introduced, I also had to know how he fit into the picture. Would he be a help or hindrance to his roommate, Fort? What did it mean that he too was haunted by nightmares similar to those that Fort kept having?

The novel has some clever scenes where telepathy plays a big role. If I say too much more it will spoil things. Teleporting also features largely in The Last Dragon and the descriptions are fantastic. I almost felt I could do it. And in some scenes, like those in London or New York, I could easily picture everything because of Riley’s deft writing. The way magic is used in this novel not only advances the plot, but feels believable and that matters when myriad novels include magic. There’s humor that tweens will appreciate too. I love how, for example, before Fort sets off to find his father, he makes sure to take a pee stop. A lot of the banter, sometimes sarcastic, sometimes funny, but mostly important, between the friends also feels real.

If your child is interested in an entertaining and super satisfying fantasy that delivers on all fronts, I’d recommend the The Last Dragon, book #2 in the The Revenge of Magic series. Now I just have to go back and read the first book!

 

SUMMARY:

Fort Fitzgerald can’t stop having nightmares about the day his father was taken from him in an attack on Washington, DC. In these dreams, an Old One, an evil beyond comprehension, demands the location of the last dragon. But other than some dragon skeletons dug up with the books of magic on Discovery Day, Fort has never seen a dragon before. Could there still be one left alive?

And weirdly, Fort’s not the only one at the Oppenheimer School having these nightmares. His new roommate, Gabriel, seems to know more than he’s letting on about this dragon as well. And why does everyone at the school seem to do whatever Gabriel says? What’s his secret?

Fort’s going to need the help of his friends Cyrus, Jia, and Rachel, if he’s going to have any chance of keeping the Old Ones from returning to Earth. Unless, the Old Ones offer something Fort could never turn down …

Buy the book from Once Upon A Time bookstore here to support a local independent retailer.

Buy the book from Indie Bound here.

Find out more about The Last Dragon here.

 

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An Iron Hearted Princess Tale

Iron Hearted Violet by Kelly Barnhill with afeff3b06140c73eb5ee46dc26371503Illustrations by Iacopo Bruno (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, $16.99, Ages 8 and up) is reviewed today by Hilary Taber.

Violet is not your average princess. She has a wild mane of red hair, eyes that don’t match in color, and a lopsided face. Also, she manages to get herself into a fair amount of trouble in her quest for adventure. However, she is goodhearted, and extremely brave! While the castle she lives in holds many secrets, there is no secret that comes so close to real danger as the story of a god named Nybbas. Nybbas is determined to be set free of his magical prison inside the castle in order to unleash his cruelty upon Violet’s kingdom. After finding a miniature library inside the castle in a small and mysterious room, Violet unknowingly becomes increasingly controlled by Nybbas. She must call upon all of her courage, storytelling skills, her family, friends, and one dragon to wage a war upon Nybbas. Yet, how can Violet defeat an immortal god?

Additionally, Nybbas knows Violet’s secret weakness. She longs to be a “real princess.” From all the stories that Violet has heard, real princesses are beautiful, not brave. When a magical offer is made by Nybbas to transform Violet into a version of the perfectly beautiful princesses in the stories she has heard all her life, she finds herself more than tempted to accept. The ever-changing castle that holds so many secrets, and the release of the evil god Nymbbas that Violet must lead the battle to fight kept me gripped until the very end. Iron Hearted Violet presents a world of so-called stories that are discovered to be full of truth, and an exploration of what it really means to be a princess. Fans of Gail Carson Levine’s novels such as Ella Enchanted, and especially J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series will find much to be pleased with within the pages of this middle grade novel. Additionally, Iron Hearted Violet is a 2012 Andre Norton Award Finalist (an award given by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America for the best young adult or middle grade fantasy book published in the United States), and a Parents’ Choice Gold Award winner.  Visit the Little, Brown Books for Young Readers website to read an excerpt by clicking here.

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