Thursday, February 7, 2008

Chris D'Lacey

The Fire Within
by Chris D'Lacey
Recommended Age: 12+

This is a very unusual story. Sometimes, it was so unusual that it skirted the borderlands of goofiness. It features a self-absorbed college student named David Rain, who becomes the boarder in the home of Mrs. Lee Pennykettle and her young daughter Lucy. Gradually, it becomes apparent that Lee has a very special gift, passed down to her through many generations: the gift of creating very special ceramic dragons that, at least in the minds of their owners, come to life.

Together with his special dragon, Gadzooks, David reluctantly ventures onto a mystery-adventure involving squirrels, birds, and a pretty girl who works at the wildlife hospital. He risks quite a bit for the friendship of a chattery little girl and the approval of her mother. He also makes his first gingerly forays into the writer’s life, guided in his inspiration by a dragon he sometimes does, sometimes doesn’t believe in, but always loves in his own prickly way. And when he finally reaches the ending of his first short story – an unexpectedly moving one – it seems clear that it won’t be his last.

Now that David’s relationship with Gadzooks has been well-established, it should be interesting to see where it leads next, in such sequels as Icefire and Fire Star.

by Chris D'Lacey
Recommended Age: 12+

This sequel to The Fire Within takes the series featuring David Rain, his landlady Liz Pennykettle, her daughter Lucy, and their houseful of magical, clay dragons to a new level of seriousness, danger, and magic. David has little time to mope about his girlfriend Sophie’s sudden move to Kenya before a new mystery develops, sparked by a wish on a new and special dragon. By the time this adventure winds up, if David only half-believed in the dragons before, he knows beyond any doubt that they are real!

It all begins with a class assignment. One of David’s college professors, a Norwegian polar climate researcher, assigns him a paper proving that dragons exist. Then a goth girl with a crush on David gets involved, prompting him to wish to know what happened to the fire tear wept by the last flesh-and-blood dragon at the moment of its death. He gets more than he bargained for: a visit from nasty, witchy “Aunt Gwyneth,” a battle involving polar bears and an albino hedgehog, and lots of mumbo-jumbo blending Inuit spirituality, New Age mysticism, and neo-pagan gobbledygook, probably spiced up by the author’s quirky imagination. Obviously, an occult-content advisory has to go out to concerned Christian parents.

On the other hand, if you’re not concerned Christian parents, there may be nothing for you to be concerned about. The dragons are adorable. The villain is horrid. The mystery is mysterious. The romance is romantic. There’s a strong, but not overpowering, green thread running through it all, encouraging young readers to feel concern for the environment. And there are enough loose ends left at the end to beckon you into the third book in the series: Firestar.


rachel said...

I'm do confused on this guys beliefs and what he is trying to get across. I'm reading his most recent release an it seems as if there could be some christian parallelism. Could you tell me if that is true or if I'm making it up (I do that sometimes haha)

RobbieFish said...

I haven't read any further in this series, but I intend to and when I write those reviews, I will try to answer your question. Thanks!