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Raising Dragons [Paperback]
by Bryan Davis

The kids at school call Billy “Dragon Breath” for good reason. His breath is bad! It isn’t the normal, morning-mouth bad; it’s the hot-as-fire, "don’t-you-dare-get-near-me" bad. And hearing "Dragon Breath" ringing in his ears, he constantly tries to cool his oral volcano. Trouble erupts when his hot breath sets off the fire sprinklers in the boys’ restroom at school, and his parents learn that they’ve kept their secret for too long.

Billy finally discovers the secret. His father was once a dragon! Now that’s a piece of news a guy doesn’t deal with every day! Billy feels betrayed, alien, lost. When he father reverts to his dragon form, and they’re both chased by dragon slayers, he learns to trust his father again, battling the slayers with weapons of steel and spirit.

Bonnie, an orphan, tries to find a home, someone to love her, even though she feels like a freak because of a body feature that she calls a deformity, her dragon wings, inherited from her now dead dragon mother. She discovers that her love for others and her faith in a greater power hold the answers she is looking for.

Volume 1 of Dragons in our Midst

AMG Publishers (July 2004). Trade paperback. 416 pages.

Author Web Site(s): http://www.daviscrossing.com/

Reviews:
Check out reviews at Amazon.com of Raising Dragons.

Edenstar Review:
Billy Bannister has a problem: bad breath. Not just any bad breath, either. It’s the kind that sets off the fire sprinkler at school and lands him in the principal’s office. The kids who call him “Dragon Breath” have no idea how close to the truth they are, and neither does Billy—at first, anyway.

Billy’s parents have withheld from him the secret of his dragon heritage. Now a slayer, following the ancient tradition of dragon slaying, stalks their family and threatens Billy’s new friend Bonnie as well. Billy must come to grips with a startling family history and a new identity as a dragon, while evading a ruthless killer.

It’s a great concept: Kid discovers secret identity as a dragon and is plunged into epic struggle for survival. Unfortunately the level of characterization doesn’t quite match the epic plot line. As often happens with Christian fiction, the lead character is too good to be true. Model student Billy attempts to restrain the troublemaker intent on setting off the school fire alarm, only to wind up accused himself. Billy and his friends come off as good examples rather than real kids.

The book also suffers from informative dialogue, when one character conveniently but unrealistically explains a situation to another for the reader’s benefit. This type of dialogue has long plagued writers of science fiction and fantasy, who must communicate otherworldly details in a natural way within the story’s context. Raising Dragons is the first in a series, and as such requires laying the groundwork for future editions. As the series continues, I expect this problem to diminish.

My favorite part of Raising Dragons is the flashback narrative explaining how and why certain dragons assumed human form. There the prose of author Bryan Davis shines, amid a high-fantasy tale of King Arthur and Merlin and, of course, dragons. Though the attempt to involve a modern kid in an ancient drama falls short, the flashback sequence on its own remains strong.

With a present-day dragon slayer pursuing Billy and his family, the story does take violent turns, so caution is advised for younger readers. The publisher’s recommended age range is 11-15 years.

Billy Bannister needs more than Listerine to cure his bad breath, and as a character it will require more than spit and polish to make him believable in future books. It is, however, exciting to see more Christian publishers venturing into fantasy and science fiction for young adults. May each author in the field continue to push for excellence in writing craft.

Reviewed June 4, 2004 for Edenstar by Cheryl Bader.

Product Code: 1770
ISBN: 0899571700




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