Tag Archives: fantasy book

The Candlestick Dragon by Melanie Ifield

Standard

IMG_4407The Candlestick Dragon by Melanie Ifield, paperback novel, 194 pages, published by Melanie Ifield in 2013.

Daniel is short for his age, wears glasses, and is constantly bullied at school. He never expects to experience adventure outside of a book, he can’t even swim, and he’s not very fond of physical activity anyway. Yet a simple excursion to the recycling centre with his mother, Darling, changes Daniel’s whole world. He brings home a candlestick with a statue of a dragon clinging to it, but it is no ordinary candlestick! The dragon blinks his eyes, shakes off his stoney exterior and speaks to Daniel. He is Nilofar, a small dragon, roughly the size of a cat, and he is on a mission, sent from his homeland, Novarmere, through a gateway portal to Earth. Adventure is at hand, with magic, wizards, a young princess, brave warriors and terrifying creatures that Daniel could never have imagined.

I enjoyed this fantasy adventure story, which was exciting, well written, and contained interesting and well described characters and landscapes. I particularly liked Nilofar. As a child I would have loved to have discovered a friendly dragon that was small enough to sit on my shoulder, wrapping his tail around me and chuckling smokey bursts about my head! Really, I would still like a friend like this! Cute and brave, Nilofar was my favourite character, though all the characters were interesting, and I came to feel rather protective of Daniel. Rishana’s attitude felt very true to form for a young teenage princess with so much power at her fingertips, I liked her vacillation between pouty teenager and easygoing comrade. We were able to see her in her role as the confident Princess of Novarmere, as well as the young and inexperienced girl that she actually is. And their immediate enemy, the evil wizard Rullin, was suitably evil, cunning and boastful.

Most suitable for middle primary school through to lower high school students, The Candlestick Dragon is still a good read for adults too. Some younger readers may find some of the action and the mythical creatures a little frightening. There is some fighting and death, though I didn’t feel that it was overly graphic. I am happy for my third grader to read this book, and will be encouraging her to do so.

I received¬†The Candlestick Dragon for free through Goodreads First Reads.¬†It is the first book in the Chronicles of Novarmere: Dark Wizard Quartet. The second book hasn’t been released yet, but I am very keen to read it and follow Daniel’s next adventure.

Song for a Scarlet Runner by Julie Hunt

Standard

IMG_13590Song for a Scarlet Runner by Julie Hunt, paperback novel, 315 pages, published by Allen & Unwin in 2013.

Peat was cast out by her village as a baby for nothing more than her red hair and different coloured eyes. She is banished along with her sister and mother to the Overhang, where they tend the cows and make cheese for the village. A village that is four days walk away with no other settlements in any direction, only marshes and the Badlands. They live a life of work and isolation, until a stranger appears on the road from the Badlands. He continues on to the village, but brings with him a terrible disease, a disease that hits the village hard, and for which Peat is blamed. Suddenly she finds herself running for her life, knowing she cannot return, but not knowing where she might go either.

Peat encounters a small reddish furred creature with small sharp claws and teeth, which attacks her, steals her food, and then saves her life. She calls him the sleek, and he guides her through the marshes, helping her, feeding her, and occasionally biting or scratching her. The sleek leads her to a island in the marshes where she is trapped by a Marsh Auntie called Eadie. Peat finds herself learning the art of storytelling from the old healer. But, the healer has a secret, a long while before, she made a bargain and now she must pay up, and Peat is the price. Peat is trapped again, this time in a strange, far away land where time has stopped, and her only companions are a little boy that is 900 years old and his ghostly hound, who are also trapped there. Together and with the help of the sleek, can they find a way to escape, to re-enter the world they once lived in? Can they find the happy ending to their own stories?

An excellent read, Song for a Scarlet Runner, was unputdownable, a truly magnificent novel for younger readers from Julie Hunt. This fantasy adventure story was engaging and exciting, with vivid landscapes and detailed characters. The descriptive qualities of this novel were superb, bringing the adventure to life. I could hear the sleek chittering in impatience at Peat, see the multi-pocketed coat that Eadie always wore, and feel the wiry hair of the giant hound as they rode him away from the river. I became immersed in the story as I followed Peat through misfortune, injustice, friendship and love. Ultimately this was a journey of discovery to find her place in the world, and though pushed to take the first steps along the road, Peat makes the most of this opportunity to create her own destiny.

Song for a Scarlet Runner would be most suitable for middle to upper primary school children, though I would be happy for my second grader to read this book. The length of the novel is probably more prohibitive to very young readers than the content or the language. Though, as always, parents should help guide their children to make good book choices for their reading ability and interests. And, of course, reading a book like this with or to your child can be very rewarding!

Rowan of Rin by Emily Rodda

Standard

IMG_8107Rowan of Rin by Emily Rodda, paperback, 138 pages, first published in 1993, this edition was published by Omnibus Books (part of the Scholastic Group) in 2005.

Rowan is a young boy, living in the little village of Rin with his mother, Jiller and his younger sister, Annad. Rowan is a caring, quiet, and shy boy, different to the other children of Rin. He is thought of as a weakling by many of the other villagers, who do not understand him. His job is to tend to the Bukshah, the gentle beasts that provide milk and wool to the people of Rin.

When the stream from the mountain that supplies the drinking water for the bukshah ceases to flow, the villagers are concerned, their lives depend on the bukshah. They must climb the mountain to discover the cause of the interrupted flow. Unexpectedly, Rowan must join the party of villagers chosen to embark upon this quest. They have a map to guide them, but it is full of riddles, and the path is full of dangers. And at the top of the mountain there is rumoured to be a dragon. Rowan and his companions have a frightening and arduous journey ahead, but they all must be brave and continue on regardless of any possible obstacles in order to restore the flow of water down the mountain. Rowan doubts he is up to the task at hand, but he sets out on the adventure of his life to save the bukshah and the village of Rin.

While this book is aimed at middle primary school children, I still love this story as an adult. It’s got adventure, fantasy, anticipation, riddles, and a dragon! I read this with my second grader, and she also loved the story. Each riddle gave us a great opportunity to discuss what it meant, and talk about what we thought might happen next in the story, and how it might affect the characters. It is very well written, and it is easy to bring Rowan and his traveling companions to life. I highly recommend this book for any child looking for a good adventure story.

 

Rowan of Rin won The Children’s Book Council of Australia Book of the Year in the Younger Readers category in 1994.