Sarah Rodriguez Pratt grew up in McAllen, Texas. She has a Bachelor's degree in English from Harvard University, and a Master's degree in Information Studies (formerly Library Science) from the University of Texas at Austin. Her first young adult book, Choose Your Weapon, was one of Kirkus Reviews' Best Books of the Year in 2013. She lives in Austin, Texas.
Learn more about Sarah's books at QuailSchoolPress.com and follow her on Twitter at @QuailSchool.
“A well-written, intelligent, exciting choice for readers looking to get hooked on a new fantasy series.”
– Kirkus Reviews
Smart, sensitive, socially awkward and trapped in the suburbs, Helen Connor finds purpose and excitement by fighting dragons in a mythical land.
Rodriguez Pratt’s debut novel, the first in an anticipated trilogy, tells how Helen’s love for the Glorious Dragonfighter book series leads to her entry into the warrior training program in Erwingdon, an apparently not-so-fictional land where devious, malevolent dragons are attempting to take over and rule. Helen’s advancement through her training is well-paced and entertaining. The primary strength of the book, however, lies in the intersections between Erwingdon and Helen’s “real world” home of Hollingsworth, Texas, a typical American town struggling with the loss of industry, encroachment of sprawl and sharp divisions of wealth. Like Helen, several of her schoolmates also have parallel lives in Erwingdon, a plot device that initially seems like an eye-rolling coincidence. This conceit, however, allows the author to examine the teens’ more familiar concerns—navigating the social atmosphere of high school, grappling with authority, dealing with parental expectations, worrying about the future—through the lens of life, death and saving the world. The novel divides its time evenly between Hollingsworth and Erwingdon, and in both places, the teenagers seem real and three-dimensional. While there’s no drug use or sex, there’s plenty of swearing and fighting and some alcohol, although Helen herself abstains. Rodriguez Pratt’s skilled writing ranges from snappy, believable dialogue to evocative descriptions of an abandoned oil refinery and a terrifying dragon cave. Several plot arcs end satisfyingly in this first book of the trilogy—Helen finishes her training and wins some battles in both worlds—but a few loose ends remain. What will become of the new sorcerer’s apprentice? How will Helen’s love interests resolve, both in Erwingdon and Hollingsworth? Who is behind the dragons’ evil plot? After getting to know Helen, her friends and her worlds, readers will want to find out.
A well-written, intelligent, exciting choice for readers looking to get hooked on a new fantasy series.
Pub Date: Aug. 3, 2013
Page count: 306pp
Publisher: Quail School Press
Review Posted Online: Sept. 3, 2013
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2013
Copywriter and editor at Quail School Media
Sandra Cisneros, Tove Jansson, Sherman Alexie, Gish Jen, Barbara Kingsolver, Haruki Murakami
"The House on Mango Street"
Favorite line from a book
"In the Envoy Corps, you take what is offered, said Virginia Vidaura, somewhere in the corridors of my memory. And that must sometimes be enough." --Richard K. Morgan, "Altered Carbon"
Unexpected skill or talent
Knits baby bird nests for wildlife rescue organizations
CHOOSE YOUR WEAPON: BOOK 1 IN THE HELEN OF HOLLINGSWORTH TRILOGY: Named to <i>Kirkus Reviews'</i> Best Books, 2013
CHOOSE YOUR WEAPON: BOOK 1 IN THE HELEN OF HOLLINGSWORTH TRILOGY: Notable Teen Book and one of Our Favorite Covers, Shelf Unbound, 2014Interview with Kirkus Reviews, 2013 Full list of coverage at Quail School Press
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