Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews



Chelsea M. Campbell
For ages 13 and up
Unabridged audiobook (CD)
Performed/read by: Fiona Hardingham
Brilliance Audio, 2016   ISBN: 978-1522639718

Four years ago Virginia was in the marketplace with her mother when one of the vendors, whom they knew, transformed into a dragon and attacked. Frozen in terror Virginia stood and watched as her mother was ripped apart. Ever since then the burden of guilt has rested heavily on her shoulders.

Virginia St. George comes from a long line of paladins, individuals who use magic and fighting skills to hunt and kill dragons. The ability to destroy dragons is in her blood and yet, for some reason, she has no magical ability at all. When her mother, who was not a paladin, needed her, Virginia did nothing.

For four years Virginia has stayed in the barracks, unable to venture out because of her fear of dragons. Now that she is almost seventeen, and since she cannot be a paladin, her father is going to marry her off. Indeed, he is quite happy to force her to wed a man old enough to be her grandfather. If she is a “dud” who cannot be a credit to the St. George dragon-slaying dynasty by being a paladin, then marriage is all she is good for.

One evening Virginia’s father hosts a party for his daughter Celeste, who recently slayed yet another dragon. Celeste is a very skilled dragon hunter and it is not easy for Virginia to live in her shadow. The party is also, to all intents and purposes, an “auction” for Virginia’s hand. The only men showing any interest in her are old, and Virginia is therefore delighted when a handsome young man asks her to dance with him.

The young man is called Prince Lothar and he is quiet charming until another good looking young man comes up. An argument breaks out between them and then the new arrival, Amelrik, stabs Lothar in the chest. Amelrik then tells Virginia to “Run,” but she ignores him.

It is only then that everyone in the room finds out that Lothar, who should be mortally wounded, is not what they think he is. He transforms into a dragon and the paladins in the room go on the offensive. In the end Lothar gets away and Amelrick, who took the time to warn Virginia, is captured.

Celeste and a party of paladins go after Lothar, but their quest a failure. In fact, it is worse than that because Celeste does not return and everyone presumes that she is dead. Except Amelrick. When Virginia visits him in the dungeons to talk to him about Celeste, he tells her that Celeste is too valuable to Lothar’s clan to kill. She is a valuable hostage, and they will keep her alive, at least for a while.

No one listens to what Virginia has to say about Celeste. They refuse to believe that she might be alive, and when Virginia’s father decides that he is going to marry her off to old man who wants sons, Virginia makes a decision. She makes a deal with Amelrick. She will free him before he can be executed, and release him from the magical dragon ring around his neck. In return he will take her to her sister. She chooses not to tell Amelrick that she has no magical ability and that it is very unlikely that she will be able to free him from the terrible ring which prevents him from taking his dragon form.

By some miracle Amelrick and Virginia survive their escape – they jump into a river from the walls of the barracks – and they make their way to the lair of the Elder clan. On the way they are captured by a group of men who are eager to make use of both Amelrick and Virginia. Virginia has to try to call upon magic, any magic, that lies inside her so that she can free Amelrick. Up until now all she has been able to do is to summon up a spark, but this time she brings forth a whole spell. She frees Amelrick from the ring, and he is able to scare off the men. When he transforms Virginia is finally able to see that he, like her, is incomplete. Amelrik isn’t a true flying dragon. Perhaps he is hiding other secrets as well.

This extraordinary tale takes us into the lives of two young people who do not fit in with their respective families. Both fall short of expectations, and yet both are capable of so much, if only someone would give them a chance. It is fascinating to see how their story unfolds and how they try to figure out where they belong.