Sunday, August 14, 2011

Book Review: Dragon Cloud (e-book)

Dragon Cloud by Denice Hughes Lewis

Middle-Grade fiction, fantasy, 28,353 words

 Denise Huges Lewis

a free e-book at Smashwords

Tazure, a young dragon, undertakes a mission to find a magic pearl that his father hid on Earth centuries ago. It will save his dimension, Draggonfeld, and Earth from the evil Dragonscar. Wounded, Tazure gets lost on Earth and kidnaps Jase, 15, and his sister, Megan, 10. The children help Tazure, not realizing that they will face death when they are separated in the land of dragons.

Reading a middle school book (around grades 5-8) requires a certain level of intellectual focus by an adult, at least for me. I found that true of Dragon Cloud, but that is not necessarily a criticism. The human protagonists are aged ten and fifteen, after all. And even Tazure, the dragon, is an adolescent. I think this book would be better for the lower end of that middle school age grouping.

I finished the book with a flash, enjoying the ending. In fact, my overall assessment of the novel is to get through the first two or three chapters, and then enjoy the rest. There is an amount of stereotyping (selfish teen boy, egghead nerd girl)  at the beginning, but this disappears as the book progresses. One could say that the characters have to start from somewhere, but the beginning was the least enjoyable part of the book for me.

Once the adventure begins, it moves with speed and efficiency to a satisfying conclusion. The world of Draggonfeld is described creatively, and the characters are developed to greater believability as the novel progresses. The action is straightforward and moves at a good pace. I especially liked the characterization of Dragonscar, the antagonist: creepy enough to be the "evil one," yet not too creepy.

Free at Smashwords
All in all, this is a tale that is about becoming less self-absorbed and learning to think and care about others. It's a good tale for middle grades to read, a good message for middle grade students to think about. There are a few editing errors in the book, oddly enough also in the first half, but few enough not to become a big negative.

Denice Hughes Lewis sets the human part of the story in Oregon, in locations I've lived and visited, and the link between fantasy and actual geography, such as Crater Lake, was an added plus to the story. And the "price" of free ain't bad, either.

Copyright 2011 by Thomas L. Kepler, all rights reserved


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