Though flashy at first glance, barely a glimmer next to Dugald Steer’s Dragonology (2003) or Graeme Base’s Discovery of...

READ REVIEW

BOOK OF DRAGONS

Scaly monsters preen, glower fiercely, and soar grandly in this introduction to dragon kind and care.

Saxton (Book of Mermaids, 2005; Book of Fairies, 2009) mixes elaborately worked painted images with doses of dragon lore but not enough of either to provide more than momentary diversion. A promising opening scenario featuring a crusty old dragon hunter is abruptly abandoned. Following that comes a tally of dragon types by habitat (“Caelum Dragons” on mountains, “Terras Dragons” on sea cliffs, etc.) and then increasingly scanty notes on how dragons are recognized, slain, tamed, and used for medicinal purposes. (It’s no wonder they “went into hiding” some centuries ago.) Only fitfully are these factoids linked to the illustrations, which are not only placed more or less arbitrarily throughout, but tend to show dragon heads, claws, or other details rather than full-body views. Photographed or photorealistically rendered herbs, jars, and scraps of paper with notes or sketches serve as filler. Aside from a perfunctory section on “Dragon Whisperers” and some momentarily arresting visuals, there is little here to draw dragon lovers out of their lairs.

Though flashy at first glance, barely a glimmer next to Dugald Steer’s Dragonology (2003) or Graeme Base’s Discovery of Dragons (1996). (Informational fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: June 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-934860-18-2

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Shenanigan

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2016

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

There’s nothing exceptional here, but the otherworldly elements and headlong pacing will sweep readers along.

HENRY HUNTER AND THE CURSED PIRATES

From the Henry Hunter series , Vol. 2

In a second brush with the supernatural (following Henry Hunter and the Beast of Snagov, 2016), brainy young sleuth Henry and his faithful chronicler, Adolphus, are kidnapped by undead pirates. Yo ho ho!

News that a friend’s parents have vanished on a cruise in the Caribbean prompts the dapper kid detective (looking ever natty in suit, tie, and fedora in Tankard’s lavishly detailed drawings) to take a quick sabbatical from St. Grimbold’s School for Extraordinary Boys and fly to Barbados to investigate. Hardly has he begun than an ectoplasmic tentacle grabs him and his sidekick, Dolf—depositing both aboard the spectral ship of Blackbeard himself. The legendary pirate is still around courtesy of a curse laid on a certain bit of booty and, since ghosts can’t hold shovels, bent on collecting hapless tourists to dig up buried treasure. Matthews enthusiastically chucks bits of pirate lore, along with the odd skeleton, map, and treasure chest, into the enterprise, and for additional atmosphere, the illustrator strews margins and corners with bugs, fish, stormy seas, and nautical jetsam. Aside from a “Rastafarian” guide, the entire cast, living and otherwise, is evidently white (and, with one minor exception, male). By the end, the curse is broken, the pirates gone, the captives rescued, and Henry himself mysteriously vanished in the wake of an encounter with merpeople. Stay tuned.

There’s nothing exceptional here, but the otherworldly elements and headlong pacing will sweep readers along. (Fantasy/mystery. 10-12)

Pub Date: March 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-51071-039-9

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Sky Pony Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Ghost-story fans won’t be disappointed in the end, if they can slog that far through all the low-wattage civil-service...

THE MINISTRY OF GHOSTS

The threat of imminent shutdown prompts a small government agency to hire a pair of young independent contractors to capture a ghost in this British import.

On the way to a pleasantly tidy ending, Shearer delivers some comical chills and twists, but he takes too long to set them up. Driven by a blustering government cost-cutter’s ultimatum, the four (or five, counting the cat) remaining members of the antique Ministry of Ghosts—originally founded in 1792 to determine whether spirits are bunkum or real—decide a fresh approach is needed. The “help wanted” card they place in the dusty window of their ramshackle building draws two students from the local school: strong-minded Thruppence Coddley, daughter of a fishmonger, and timorous but game classmate Tim Legge, both white. The author salts his tale liberally with subtle clues and oddly quaint characters, and he eventually arrives at some startling (for unobservant readers, at least) revelations. But aside from brief mentions in a prologue, the two young people don’t even show up to get the ghost hunting under way until seven wordy introductory chapters have trundled slowly by, filled with eye-glazing exchanges and daily routines in an office where nothing much has changed in decades.

Ghost-story fans won’t be disappointed in the end, if they can slog that far through all the low-wattage civil-service satire. (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: May 3, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5107-0473-2

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Sky Pony Press

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2016

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more