Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The Last Dragon Charmer Book 1 by Laurie McKay

Caden is a prince in a mighty kingdom. He is eighth in line to the throne and is on a quest to slay a dragon. He thinks that by doing so he will gain favor with his father. He is on his way to do so one day when by some mysterious force he is transported through time to Asheville North Carolina.  Not only are there many strange things to see in this new time but there are laws and rules to follow here that are difficult for Caden to fathom. He is used to giving orders not taking them.

Caden is not alone in Asheville though. His trusty battle steed Sir Horace also came through the portal and soon becomes a bit of a celebrity in town. Also Brynne, a budding sorceress and Caden's  long time acquaintance also finds herself there. As soon as the kids arrive they are immediately under suspicion because a local youngster Jane Chan went missing. As the trio begin to search for the missing girl they find that there is more to the town and to the school than they initially thought. There are malevolent forces at work and what's more Caden just may get the chance to slay a dragon after all.

I like the fact that McKay featured a minority character and not only that but a minority character (the Puerto Rican, Tito) who is not subservient or evil or conniving or one of the usual tropes. In fact he is actually quite a good foil for the impudent, headstrong Caden. Brynne for her part is not a damsel in distress in need of being rescued

In addition to the fantasy angle Caden also has to deal with fitting in at his new school and adjusting to his new life. McKay does a good job of balancing all these themes without giving them a heavy-handed treatment. Asheville is not exactly the kind of place you would think of a fantasy epic occurring (I can't imagine any of the blockbuster fantasy movies being set here for one thing) but McKay does a fantastic job of creating a magical aura about the city.  This is a good read and I recommend it for ages 10+.

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