THE DRAGON OF MIDDLETHORPE by Anne Leo Ellis

THE DRAGON OF MIDDLETHORPE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A first novel contrived around the credulous inhabitants of a medieval village battling an imaginary dragon that represents their own fears; unfortunately, Ellis's style and plotting are not skillful enough to realize her theme's potential. Protagonist Kate, 13, has unusual hopes: interested in healing, she'd like to be apprenticed to the apothecary and to learn to read. These ambitions are interrupted by rumors of a dragon in the dreaded forest; greedy treasure-seekers, the normally rational, and the gullible are all caught up in the furor and set out to battle what is really a series of violent thunderstorms and consequent fires. Kate sneaks along, taking some ""magic"" unicorn horn powder that, hurled at the crucial moment in the battle, ""causes"" a downpour that puts the fire out. There follows a misty, dreamlike vision of a unicorn, confirming everyone's belief that Kate has performed heroically. Though the story moves along smoothly, it has a generic quality: no particular time or place, stock characters, predictable images. Most disappointing, the potent symbol of the dragon isn't really explored; a wise old herb woman tells Kate that sometime in the future people may ""no longer be in terror of dragons. Then they can struggle against other evils."" But what those are, or why fighting the imaginary dragon is itself an evil, is never suggested. Acceptable as undemanding fare.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1991
Page count: 180pp
Publisher: Henry Holt