Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Book Review: The Land of Dragor: Book 1: The Gift of Charms by Julia Suzuki (*review copy*)




Title: The Land of Dragor: Book 1: The Gift of Charms
Author: Julia Suzuki
Published:4 September 2014
Publisher:  John Blake Publishing Online
Twitter: @JuliaSuzuki_uk

Synopsis (taken from Amazon UK)

Here Be Dragons...Hidden in a mist-filled valley, far away from the habitation of man, live the last of the world's dragons. Divided by clan but united by the need to conceal themselves from humankind, these creatures, supposedly of myth and fairy tale, live ordinary lives, while ever aware that discovery will almost certainly be their undoing. Centuries ago, a great war spelled the end of their slavery to mankind. But in separating themselves from the rest of the world, the dragon clans have paid a heavy price. There is an emptiness in the Land of Dragor that did not exist before, and all the elders feel it. Disharmony runs rife. The dragons have vowed never to leave Dragor, but the youngest of them grow restless and superstitions abound. So when a strange egg is laid, all fear what will come of it. Could Dragor be about to meet its saviour? Or its destroyer?

Review

**In the interest of disclosure, I was provided with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. No incentive or compensation was provided for this review.**

This debut novel from Julia Suzuki is a fantasy adventure story, a fable of magic and mythical creatures, a story of family, acceptance and courage. I believe is written at a suitable level for older children around 9-12 years old.

Whilst it is not my normal genre, I thought it was a delightful tale with charming characters, including the brave Yoshiko, the loyal Elsy, the wise Guya, the bully Igorr and the mysterious Ageless Ones. One of my main enjoyments of this story came from the character development, seeing Yoshiko turn from a unsure young dragon to a hero and understanding how Igorr is belittled and ignored by his own father.

The tale is set in the mythical land of Dragor, a land hidden from the eyes of humans and inhabited by dragons, not the vicious and dangerous creatures of folklore but human-like creatures with intelligence, morals and conscience. Banished to their own land and wiped from human memory, the dragons are living in peace and safety, however their powers are gradually dwindling that their future is in jeopardy. 

Along comes Yoshiko, born from an unusual rainbow-coloured egg. On starting fire school, young Yoshiko realises he is different from the other dragons and is bullied because of those differences. He learns that differences do not make one dragon better or worse than others, but that all the clans have their own strengths. This helps Yoshiko to become comfortable in his own skin. Yoshiko is helped by Guya to understand the importance of his birth and his destiny to help save the Land of the Dragons. The tale follows Yoshiko's attempts to fit in with his contemporaries and his quest to fulfil his destiny.

I liked that the book sends a strong message to the reader about bullying. The dragon clans are distinguished by the colour of their skin/scales and specific mention is made of the different skills attributable to each clan. The tales instructs the reader to accept and appreciate those differences, rather than ridiculing and bullying someone because of them.

As mentioned above, I don't read a lot of children's stories and, as such, I had to keep reminding myself that the depth of background information contained within the book would be significantly less than in adult fiction. However, I think that the fact I wanted to know more is a good indication of how much I enjoyed the story.

My only criticism would be with the editing. There were some grammatical errors which jumped out at me, such as starting a sentence with 'And' and a couple of punctuation oddities. However, I am aware that I am probably being a bit pedantic and as I was reading a review copy, I appreciate that those errors will likely have been rectified in the final version.

Overall, this was a good debut by Julia Suzuki and I would be happy to recommend this book to friends who have children. I look forward to reading more from Ms Suzuki in the near future.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

About the Author

 


Julia Suzuki grew up in Staffordshire, listening to the magical sounds of fair rides and animals from a theme park across the stream at the bottom of her garden. Through working with a Disney licensing company and working with entrepreneur David Lloyd in an international resorts business, Julia visited many beautiful places, inspiring the setting for her literature. Her love of reading, of nature and of the outdoors fed her colourful imagination and inspired her to become an author. 
 
The book is released in electronic format and is currently priced at £5.99 for the paperback version or £2.39 for the Kindle version on Amazon UK


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