This epic novel, first in this fantasy series, transports the reader to the magical Land of Dragor, where seven dragon clans live hidden from man having beaten off the evil dragsaur beasts.
Their great wars with the humans are over and the dragons live peacefully among the smoking mud pools and around The Fire Which Must Never Go Out. But the terrible years when they were enslaved by humans have left a lasting scar, and they are told they can never soar above the mountains and leave their safe haven to explore the outside world.
There is unease in the air of their mist-filled valley, and the coming of a strange egg heralds a new era. Unlike the normal delicate lilac, this shell is multi-coloured like the contents of a treasure chest. The newborn hatchling is called Yoshiko, but he is immediately treated with suspicion by the elders, and is lucky to survive. The last time a coloured egg was laid, legendary warrior leader Surion was born from a red shell, and with his gift of fire the dragons went to battle with the humans. Will Yoshiko bring a blessing to the clans, or a curse? Could Dragor be about to meet its saviour, or its destroyer?
Chameleon-like Yoshiko is bullied and tormented as he grows up, taunted at fire school as he struggles to produce a jet of flame. Desperate to hide his colour changes, he flees from school one day and finds himself on the fabled mountain of Cattlewick Cave, home to the mysterious and reclusive elder Guya. This chance meeting changes Yoshiko’s life, and as he develops from hatchling to youngling, he is inspired to spread his wings and venture outside Dragor. He returns with something, but will it be a blessing to Dragor or a curse.
When I was asked by the author Julia Suzuki to review this book, I was at first a little unsure of what to expect to be honest. This kind of novel is way out of my comfort zone. The nearest things I’ve read to this sort of fiction are Harry Potter and the Lord of the Rings, which I love.
The first comment I’d like to make is how easy a story it is to read. Suzuki writes with fluidity, the text flows beautifully and the dialogue between the characters is clear and well written. I can see children of 8+ really getting into this book because of how easy it is to read. It’s not stuffy or boring, Suzuki doesn’t waste time or words, she gives enough background to the story and characters so that the reader has a clear image in his/her head regarding the scene and characters.
Secondly, although this novel is aimed primarily at children, it is very clear to see the parallels of the Land of Dragor and the world we humans inhabit today. For example, the dragons daily life seems to be hampered in the same way as ourselves, with bullying, discrimination and ignorance prevalent in their society as well as ours. I think this novel will help to educate children in these areas and give them a basis of understanding these issues in their own lives.
The characters in this book are brought to life wonderfully by Suzuki. Her descriptions are perfect and use of dialogue is excellent. The relationship between Yoshiko, who is the little hero of the piece, and Igorr, who torments Yoshiko terribly, is so true to life it made me think back to my own school days. And I think children will also relate to this part of the story in particular.
Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by the Gift of Charms and I would highly recommend it to children of 8+. I will certainly be recommending this to my 12 year old niece. Well done Julia, this is a solid start to a series which I’m sure will grow in popularity.
My Star Rating: 3.5/5
Julia was kind enough to answer a few questions I had for her…
What were your inspirations for the book?
‘It was during the time that my son was at junior school that I was inspired to write the first novel. Ideas came flooding to me. I had been thinking back to the wonderful vintage books I had read and wishing there were more like this – yet with unique edge and an interactive web presence. I knew first hand what parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles were looking for when purchasing a book for their children, but more than that, I knew also what they sought themselves. Readers want gripping action, loads of adventure – all the classic aspects of heroes and villains, quests and hangars and the hope of happy endings. I wanted to write books with universal appeal, that were fantastical and yet in many ways real to today; to fulfill the expectations of book lovers and hook a non-reader back into reading. For me this had to be in the form of a series, set in and a place we would all like to visit – and so the Land of Dragor came to be.
What books did you enjoy reading as a child?
CS Lewis and Enid Blyton were my favourites
Can you give us any sneak peaks into further plot lines for the series?
Three children become the Dragor heroes, and problems become even greater than in book one ~ that is all I am going to say at this stage
There seem to be a few themes, as mentioned in my review, that mirror our own lives. Was this intentional? And if so, what do you hope will be the message that impressionable children will take away from the book?
Yes it was intentional. The main message being that we are all special and can achieve what we put our minds too with persistence; rising above anyone who tries to bring us down.
The Gift of Charms Book #1 is available in paperback to PRE-ORDER at AMAZON HERE http://tinyurl.com/o95ufw9.
Release date is September 4th