Dragon of Darkness by Antonia Michaelis

Chinese Dragon Lantern - Clarke Quay, Singapore
Christopher has lived in his brother Arne’s shadow his whole life but when Arne goes missing in Nepal, he is swept into an adventure which pushes him into the forefront.  The challenges of his trip and the company in which he is thrust force him to re-evaluate his picture of himself and his place in his family and community.

Jumar is the crown prince of Nepal.  He has lived his whole life in the shelter and privacy of the castle with his grieving father and ever-sleeping mother.  When the turmoil of the outer world crashes into his life, he is thrust into an odyssey beyond the castle walls which challenged his way of thinking, his sense of entitlement and his place in Nepal.

These boys are thrown together by circumstance and yet they share some common traits and their lives become entwined.  Michaelis weaves together fairy tale, fantasy, and realism into a dramatic adventure which explores what it means to be a leader, the purpose of government, the corruption of power, the cycle of violence and human capacity for forgiveness and courage.

The only off-note for me was the sexual relationship between our fourteen year old hero, Christopher, and his fourteen year old companion, Niya.  Although the tryst is not graphically described, my puritan background chafes against sexually active fourteen-year olds.  Still I don’t believe in keeping it out of a library on those grounds alone.  Some contextually appropriate violence, also not overly graphic.

Well-written, fast-paced adventure fantasy.  Worth adding to the 6-12 library collection.

Antonia Michaelis

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