The Dragon Who Chooses Twice

Telepathic dogs, flying dragons and clairvoyant bears abound in Purpus’ (Dragon Magic, 2014, etc.) new YA fantasy novel.
The fourth book set in Draconia introduces 15-year-old Aster, a headstrong young lady who is seeking purpose in life. Her father is a carpenter, and Aster is slated to start an apprenticeship that will train her in the same art. She has other ideas, though, and enters the Pathfinder Academy, a program designed to help youngsters find their true callings. It is quickly apparent that Aster possesses strong dragon magic and the gift of telepathy. She is also drawn to the history of Draconia when she discovers information about the nation’s past that was doomed to be forgotten. In the middle of her research, Aster uncovers facts pertinent to the future survival of Draconia and the magic that inhabits her world. She befriends a dragon named Jasmine, who has chosen to live in isolation following the loss of her dragon rider. Jasmine and Aster form a powerful bond and become a team, encountering unexpected allies with unique gifts, including a powerful mage, a gryphon and a seer who happens to be a bear. Along the way, Jasmine begins to heal from her loss and helps Aster come to terms with a betrayal in her own family. Meanwhile, dark magic threatens Draconia, and only Aster and Jasmine possess the strength and knowledge to save the country. Purpus has the material for an engaging magical tale focused on family and forgiveness. Her characters are appealing and relatable, modeling behavior that Purpus’ young audience will hopefully find attractive. However, Purpus spends too much time hashing out Aster’s family problems and Jasmine’s angst over her lost rider, failing to build adequate suspense around the existence of dark magic. The possible presence of a black magician is revealed nearly two-thirds of the way through the book, leaving only 100 or so pages to find the culprit and bring about a resolution. As a result, the climax feels unfortunately rushed.
An on-trend fantasy novel that may please fans of Purpus’ previous work, though it lacks a wider appeal.

Pub Date: July 9, 2014

ISBN: 978-0692221259

Page Count: 292

Publisher: Purpus Publishing

Review Posted Online: Aug. 14, 2014

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While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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A touching family drama that effectively explores the negative impact of stress on fragile relationships.


A middle-aged woman returns to her childhood home to care for her ailing father, confronting many painful secrets from her past.

When Mallory Aldiss gets a call from a long-ago boyfriend telling her that her elderly father has been gallivanting around town with a gun in his hand, Mallory decides it’s time to return to the small Rhode Island town that she’s been avoiding for more than a decade. Mallory’s precocious 13-year-old daughter, Joy, is thrilled that she'll get to meet her grandfather at long last, and an aunt, too, and she'll finally see the place where her mother grew up. When they arrive in Bay Bluff, it’s barely a few hours before Mallory bumps into her old flame, Jack, the only man she’s ever really loved. Gone is the rebellious young person she remembers, and in his place stands a compassionate, accomplished adult. As they try to reconnect, Mallory realizes that the same obstacle that pushed them apart decades earlier is still standing in their way: Jack blames Mallory’s father for his mother’s death. No one knows exactly how Jack’s mother died, but Jack thinks a love affair between her and Mallory’s father had something to do with it. As Jack and Mallory chase down answers, Mallory also tries to repair her rocky relationships with her two sisters and determine why her father has always been so hard on her. Told entirely from Mallory’s perspective, the novel has a haunting, nostalgic quality. Despite the complex and overlapping layers to the history of Bay Bluff and its inhabitants, the book at times trudges too slowly through Mallory’s meanderings down Memory Lane. Even so, Delinsky sometimes manages to pick up the pace, and in those moments the beauty and nuance of this complicated family tale shine through. Readers who don’t mind skimming past details that do little to advance the plot may find that the juicier nuggets and realistically rendered human connections are worth the effort.

A touching family drama that effectively explores the negative impact of stress on fragile relationships.

Pub Date: May 19, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-11951-3

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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