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Sunday, 10 January 2016

Book Review: The Gift of Charms by Julia Suzuki

* I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

In a secret land, far away from the habitation of man, dwell the world's remaining dragons -- hoping the dragsaur beasts have vanished forever. Here they try to live their daily lives, but all is not well and their talents are fading.

Things change, however, when, from a strange egg, Yoshiko is born - a dragon with a unique destiny.

Great adventure lies ahead as many challenges must be overcome, leading to a dangerous mission to the human world in attempt to return to the clans their missing magic!

Can Yoshiko make it in time?

Image credit: Julia Suzuki
I've read quite a few children's fantasy books in my time. And, funnily enough, a lot of those seem to have included dragons. That's because dragons are one of those things that kids love to read about. Whether it's classic tales of princesses and dragons and knights in shining armour, or well-loved franchises like How To Train Your Dragon, the beasts seem to be a staple of children's fiction.

This is the first book in Julia Suzuki's The Land of Dragor series. Suzuki is a self-published children's author, and The Gift of Charms won her the British Arts Council Award for 2014 - a great feat for an indie author.

Fantastic fantasy world

Despite this, I was a little dubious starting this book. I find that reading children's books as an adult can be very hit-and-miss - I either get them and enjoy them, or I don't.

Luckily I needn't have worried though. For a children's book it was very detailed, and the crafting and precision that had gone into the world-building was superb. I could really picture the landscape and locations in Yoshiko's world, which is really integral in a book aimed at children.

The characters were also great. Yoshiko was a really well-rounded character, relatable to many children I'm sure. Throughout the book he changes as his character develops, which was lovely to read during the course of the story. The supporting cast were also good. I'd like to see more of 'The Twins' and Yoshiko's friends in the following books, as I think they have a lot of potential Suzuki could explore.

A little predictable

My only criticism is that the plot was a little predictable. Now, I know that the plots of children's books often have to be predictable because of the young age of the target audience, but it can be nice if something happens that surprises you when you're reading it. Unfortunately this book lacked that, but since it was still a good plot, I can forgive the predictability.

All in all, the good points far outweigh the only criticism here. I think there's a lot of potential and scope for expansion in this series... Suzuki could well be on to a winner.

Rating: 3 stars.

The Gift of Charms is available to buy now.

Have you read The Gift of Charms? Let me know in the comments below!

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