Author: Aiden Storm
Illustrator: McCartney Leopardi
Publication Date: July 1, 2014
Publisher: Dreaming Empire; 71 pages
Source: Advance review copy
Thirteen year old Jack is spending the summer at his Aunt’s house in the country. Unfortunately, it’s done nothing but rain and he’s stuck in her old mansion without cable or internet. Bored and alone, he sets out to explore the house. When he reaches the attic, he finds an intricate and unusual mural painted on the walls. Life for Jack gets turned upside down when he stumbles and is transported through a portal into a magical world.
For Jasyra, the daughter of the High King, life couldn’t be worse. Her father has been turned to glass, her kingdom has been taken over by the Demon Emperor, and she and her friend, Evooku, have been exiled. The only way to save the land is to reassemble the Dragon Fyre Blade, but the Demon Emperor has hidden all six pieces and each is guarded by great mythical beasts. There is only one person who can help restore peace, but it has been said that he is not of their land.
When Jack awakens in the Great Forest of Karandur, he encounters Jasyra and Evooku. He discovers the only way home is to band together to fight the evil Lycanthor, a giant werewolf that guards a piece of the Dragon Fyre Blade. But first they have to make it through an enchanted land full of danger.
The Queen of Light appears to Jack and delivers a gift, as well as a revelation. He, Jasyra and Evooku form an unlikely friendship along the way and lasting bonds are made when they realize they are Karandur’s only hope. Will the trio be able to defeat Lycanthor and save the kingdom from an eternity of despair?
The Dragon Fyre Blade: Lycanthor the Werewolf is the first book in a series of six and is written for children 7 – 11 years old.
I admit I wasn't sure at first if I would like this. The opening scene was a little violent, and then the story was revealed to be of the normal-kid-falls-into-fantasy-world type. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. The Narnia books follow that pattern, for Pete's sake. But I've been feeling a little tired of it, so I was a little biased as I began.
Storm's fast-paced writing blew away that prejudice for the most part. The action is gripping, but I think the author found a good balance between believable peril and too much intensity for the younger children. I would say that my biggest issue with the book is that characters and relationships aren't adequately developed. The book is so short (under 70 pages per my electronic copy) that there is little time to explore Jack's confusion at finding himself in a new world, let alone give us a clear sense of Jasyra and what she is thinking or feeling.
What the story didn't do to keep my attention, the illustrations did. McCartney Leopardi's line drawings are vivid and active, and Lycanthor is truly frightening. The full-page black and white drawings add a lot to the pleasure of the book.
It's easy to see how and why the story is being broken into six books--one for each piece of the blade. But this first piece is found quickly enough to make me wonder if the whole story couldn't have been made into a single book, or a trilogy of books at a more typical length for the age range (at least the upper part. Ages 7-12 covers a wide range of reading levels). To me the book read more like a short story, or an early chapter book.
I think this will be enjoyed by fantasy fans of all sorts, but I would say it is especially suited to the younger end of the middle grades--say ages 7-9.
About the Author: Aiden Storm
Aiden grew up a city boy, but always loved getting out into the country. As a kid, his great uncle always took him to old castles, famous battlegrounds and long hikes in the wilderness. These days, Aiden lives in old cottage next to the forest with his dog Blade. When not writing Aiden spends time exploring the woods, dead certain they’re full of fantastical creatures, long lost relics and ancient magic…
Full Disclosure: I was given a free electronic copy of Lycanthor the Werewolf in exchange for my honest review as a part of a Mother-Daughter Book Reviews book review blitz. The opinions expressed are my own and those of no one else. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."