The Dragon Children: The Prophecy by Hannah Byrnes
The Dragon Children: The Prophecy by rising fantasy author Hannah Byrnes may be aimed at children and young adults, but the rip-roaring magical adventure has plenty of appeal for grown-up readers too.
The story, the first in a planned trilogy, is set in a magical kingdom, Dragonreach, which is home to the last two dragons on Earth, and their closely-guarded eggs.
Dragonreach is the last place on the planet where magic exists, and its fate lies in the hands of two teenagers - shy, bookish Kai and feisty, tomboyish Bridget.
The pair couldn’t be more different, but together they will encounter flying dragons and mysterious magicians, invisible temples and shattered lakes, learn to decipher ancient codes and do battle with giant iron birds – as well as have to deal with everyday hassles such as nagging parents.
The book begins with a prologue that takes us, in flashback, to the Dragonreach of the distant past. It shows us how majestic dragons once ruled the skies but were almost wiped out in a dramatic battle with the Iron King and his mechanical killing machines.
Fast forward to the present day, where Kai, the son of a TV astrologer, and Bridget, who loves ponies and secretly wants to be a knight, have been - quite literally - marked from birth as the two chosen ones, the Dragon Children.
Although they have never met each other, their fates are entwined by the star-shaped birthmarks they have both grown up with, without ever realising their significance.
Kai and Bridget are plucked from their everyday lives of exams and competitive parenting, and transported to Zomak, the capital of Dragonsreach.
There they learn about the dragon eggs kept in a temple on a remote mountain, the Shard, and are trained to read the Dragons Code so they will be able to pass their new-found knowledge to others and restore humankind’s faith in magic.
But when war is waged by the forces of the evil Iron Queen, Zomak is destroyed, the pair are separated and the precious dragon eggs are lost.
Kai and Bridget set out on a seemingly impossible quest to reunite the eggs, but with deadly foes including the Wurm to contend with, will they be able to fulfil the age-old prophecy that tells of a time when dragons will rule the skies once more?
Fans of JK Rowling, Philip Pullman and J.R.R Tolkien will instantly fall in love with the epic fantasy that Byrnes has created. Though the genre is, unfortunately, filled with derivative works that too often bring nothing new to the table, here we have an author who has worked hard to bring a satisfying depth to the characters and the magical world they find themselves in.
In Kai and Bridget, for example, she has created sympathetic and engaging leads whose worries – such as overbearing parents, exam stress and not ‘fitting in’ with the crowd, as well as the challenges of meeting their new-found responsibilities – will resonate with young readers’ own lives.
Along with good characterisation and a vivid backdrop, plot twists come thick and fast throughout, and the fast-paced story offers a new thrill around every corner.
Eagle-eyed readers, meanwhile, will enjoy spotting clues about what is in store while the ending serves a genuine ‘wow’ moment in its revelations about the true nature of the Dragon Children’s foe that will leaves readers anxious to read the next volume.
The Dragon Children: The Prophecy by Hannah Byrnes is priced £5.99 in paperback and £1.99 as an eBook. Visit www.hannahbyrnes.co.uk
Book of the Boggart by Hannah Byrnes
A menagerie of weird and wonderful creatures from the colourful imaginations of children are brought to life in this delightful anthology of dark fairy tales.
Book of the Boggart contains 23 captivating and original short stories and poems featuring the likes of fairies, dragons, yetis, unicorns, riddle-talking wind walkers, and the story-loving boggart - a creature from British folklore – who lends his name to the book’s title.
The collection is the work of rising fantasy writer Hannah Byrnes, who last year ran a competition for youngsters to submit 500-word entries about their favourite mythical creature.
She then took the best submissions and spun them out into these compelling tales aimed at readers young and old and accompanied by gorgeous black and white illustrations by talented artist Michelle Tolo.
Byrnes, also the author of fantasy adventure The Dragon Children, is being tipped as the next J.K. Rowling by her growing fan base and one of the reasons for this is her ability to tap into the mindset of young people and create fully-realised characters and settings that speak directly to them.
Many of these stories involve young people being whipped from the mundanity and annoyances of everyday life - school work, bullies and so on - and transported through magic portals and other mystical means into parallel worlds where dragons roam and goblins growl.
The book begins by introducing us to the Boggart - a creature who lives in a tree and has an insatiable hunger for stories. The magical creature befriends good storytellers but gobbles up those who fail to spin a satisfying yarn.
Thankfully, when a fearless young girl, Hannah, encounters the Boggart, she is able to befriend him thanks to her ability to create wonderful stories, like a modern-day Scheherazade from One Thousand and One Nights. The Boggart writes the stories down, and these are his tales.
Like all the best fairy tales, the stories in this collection are rich in metaphors and morals. Throughout the book, characters are well rewarded for bravery, generosity and honesty, while liars, cheats and war-mongers get their comeuppance.
Readers will find much to enjoy among the tales but highlights for this reviewer include A Dragon’s Tale
, which features Valendro, a dragon whose father was emblazoned on the Welsh flag, getting inappropriately hot-headed with the residents nearby town when part of his prized treasure hoard disappears.
Other favourites are The Yeti of the Mountains
, which finds a hunter, Sergei, discovering he may have underestimated his mythical quarry; Hidden Treasure
, where adventure-seeking goblin Ortho hunts for a treasure that is ‘sought by many but possessed by very few’ and learns about what is really valuable in life; and atmospheric poem Fortune Road
which follows a quest to capture Chan Chu, the Fortune Toad.
The writer is donating 100 per cent of profits from Book of the Boggart to the Make a Wish Foundation - a charity that makes dreams come true for seriously ill children and young people.
It seems more than a fair exchange: spellbinding entertainment in return for bringing a little magic into poorly children’s lives.
Book of the Boggart by Hannah Byrnes is out now, priced £3.99 in paperback and 99p as an eBook. Visit www.hannahbyrnes.co.uk