Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Dragon's Keep

Dragon's Keep

Janet Lee Carey
For ages 14 and up
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2008   ISBN: 978-0152064013

Rosalind lives in the shadow of a six hundred year old prophecy. Long ago Merlin the mage said that the twenty-first queen of Wilde Island would "redeem the name Pendragon. End war with the wave of her hand. And restore the glory of Wilde Island." One day Rosalind will be that twenty-first queen and her mother never lets her forget it. What no one knows, other than Rosalind and her mother, is that Rosalind was born with an unusual "mark." One of the fingers on her left hand is a claw instead of a normal looking finger. Knowing that her daughter would be branded as a witch if anyone saw it, Rosalind's mother makes sure that Rosalind wears gloves at all times. She also secretly tries to find someone who will be able to make Rosalind's finger normal, but, alas, all the healers who have come to the castle have left without affecting the claw at all. Rosalind's mother is determined to marry Rosalind off to Prince Henry, the son of Queen Matilda of England, but how will such a marriage be possible if Rosalind does not find a cure to rid herself of her claw? If she cannot marry, how will she be able to fulfill Merlin's prophecy?

As if this is not bad enough there is something else that makes life precarious for Rosalind and all her people. A dragon lives on the island and it swoops down from the mountain regularly to kill and eat the unfortunate people who are not able to get out of its way fast enough. None of the dragon slayers have been able to deter the beast, and Rosalind fears that the dragon will never be defeated.

As the months roll by, events take place that show Rosalind that her mother is not the person she thought she was. This realization frightens Rosalind and she starts to worry about her own future and the future of her people.

In this extraordinary book readers will find themselves getting swept up by a story that is exciting and unpredictable. We meet a young woman who wants to fulfill her destiny without fully realizing what that destiny is. Readers will have expectations of what should happen next, and then something quite different takes place that will amaze them and lead them in a new direction. Twists in the plot will keep readers guessing, and the way in which new information is revealed, bit by bit, is beautifully done. The characters are fleshed out in great detail, and it is fascinating to see how they develop and change as the story unfolds. Readers who enjoy tales full of adventure, magic, and mystery will love this title.