By Julia Suzuki
Yet again I find myself a bit out of my normal genre with this one, but as I am always looking for books I can share with my children I figured it was worth checking out. The Land of Dragor is a youth oriented fantasy series, that melds magic, science, fantasy and alternative history with a relate-able feel good story of growing up different. It is set in Dragor, a land of 7 different dragon clans hidden from the world of man. It sit tucked away in a valley surrounded by mountains protected by The Fire Which Must Never Go Out, ensuring a blanket of smoke that hides the land.
Dragor has not always been, it began after a terrible battle for freedom from man, who had enslaved the dragons. They founded their safe oasis, and live peacefully among one another. Like any community it has its market place, its school, its various 'neighborhoods', so to say, where each individual clan resides, etc. It is protected by the Elite Guard's and ruled by Kinga, it has its laws which have been put in place to help ensure the secret of Dragor remains that, secret, and for those who choose to break the laws of the land it even has its own prison. So as you can see Dragor is much like the human world in many aspects, as are the clans that live there, except of course they are dragons.
The story itself revolves around Yoshiko, a youngling dragon that is a bit different than the rest. His elders, (parents) Kiara and Ketu, have kept a secret,since his birth, to protect their youngling, Yoshiko is a very special dragon he just doesn't know it yet, and like any youngling he struggles through his days. We watch as Yoshiko stumbles through his early seasons, as he goes off to Fire School, makes friends and struggles with a bullies. We witness Yoshiko's strange abilities, and we follow him on his journey to self acceptance and eventual greatness with the help of his elders, Romoa, Guya, The Ageless Ones and his friends.
The Gift Of Charms is really a very charming book. It takes real life trials and lessons and packages them in this quaint story that is set in a fantastical world that will wrap you up in it. Its well written, with a simple style that allows for younger readers to easily follow, and done in a way that is very relate-able to even the youngest of readers. Its a story that I expect would have a fairly far reaching appeal, from the very young all the way up to adult fantasy readers. I haven't read the others in the series yet, but I feel as though the story will grow into something a bit more complex than this first book, which I believe will work very well, as in my opinion a youth orientated series should grow as its readers do, so I am very happy with the prospect of where this series will going in future books.
All of that being said I think in this sort of a review the most important reviewers are my daughter and son. They are only toddlers, but they both LOVE books, so I decided when I received this one I would test it out as bedtime reading without any real expectation for their attention spans (hahaha). I was very pleasantly surprised when right from the beginning my daughter especially took to the book, she has been a bit of a dragon fan for months now, so she understood right away what kind of journey we were beginning. As I began she saw the map, which shows the layout of Dragor, and was immediately engaged and often referred back to it as the story continued. I wondered after the first night if she would remember the story, but once again she shocked me asking me as bedtime approached (the second day) if we could read the Dragons more together! I believe that is the highest praise there is, it says much more about the story than I ever could, my children cuddled around me happily drifting of to dream land with thoughts of Dragons, secret lands, and magic... It seems Julia Suzuki has found her newest family of fans!