When a deeply experienced author like Allison Morse turns her attention to Young Adult fantasy, readers know there’s a steady hand at the helm. In Dragon’s Shadow, Morse is able to flesh out her characters almost effortlessly, leaving readers with a sure sense of who these people think they are, who they really are, and who they may be. In this case, we enter a paranormal world alongside Kylie, a teen struggling to find her place, who has found refuge in science because she can only trust her own experiences. Yet suddenly, Kylie is ripped from her real world and whisked to a magical one where everything she knows about herself is turned inside out.
She discovers that she is royalty; that she has a twin brother, Jarlon; and that their fates are entwined with dragons. Morse is able to capture the wonder and terror of being 14 years old, making Dragon’s Shadow a masterful work of YA fiction. At once escapist and hauntingly real, Morse gives readers alternating points of view, allowing her to turn a rather simple plot into one at once suspenseful and pleasing. The world-building here will satisfy even the most ardent fantasy reader and charm even those without much experience in the genre. Shifting from the contemporary United States to the magical Hamadriad, the book presents us with wondrous creatures and fascinating races living alongside and in opposition to each other.
As Kylie and Jarlon confront the prophecy surrounding them (having to defend Hamadriad from an evil dragon tyrant), they–and by proxy, readers–see the world around them anew and learn just what is worth saving: others. Like much YA fiction, the tale Morse is telling is about facing and overcoming fears but also about developing a deeper sense of self and actively making a place for yourself in the world around you. There really isn’t a moment when Morse’s prose doesn’t ring true, making the novel’s greatest strength the ease of accessibility and the resonant truth of her fantasy world. Morse gives readers a heroine-in-progress, with her strengths and weaknesses on full display. It would be difficult not to identify with Kylie, which is what makes Morse’s novel so admirable. Jarlon is also well crafted as a character; he feels present. Yet as the crux and pivot of the narrative, it’s Kylie who demands readers’ attention and consideration, making the story compelling.
Most of all, Dragon’s Shadow is a fun novel. Adults will see and feel themselves in it, as will young readers, both coming out of the experience feeling they’ve experienced something vibrant.
Chris Hayden has been working at City Book Review since 2012, so that makes him the keeper of knowledge. He manages the office and book reviewers (all 200 of them!), which is no small feat. If you’re looking at the book reviews here, you’re seeing them because he sent the books out for review. Without him, this place would fall apart, because no one else in the office knows how to use the postage machine. Two words: job security.
|Page Count||256 pages|
|Publisher||The Wild Rose Press|
|Amazon||Buy this Book|