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VILLAIN KEEPER (The Last Dragon Keeper Series, Book 1)

Author: Laurie McKay

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Publisher: Harper, an Imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, 2015

Material: hard cover

Summary: Prince Caden wants nothing more than to become an Elite Paladin and make his father proud. But things aren't going according to plan. First, Caden, Sir Horace (his horse) and Brynne (a spellcaster) have tumbled from their world to Asheville, NC. It may not be the Great Winterlands of Razon, but there is definitely magic here - powerful, evil magic. Rath Dunn (going by the alias Mr. Rathis) is the Kingdom's nemesis. Mrs. Primrose is clearly a dragon. There is no doubt that these two are involved with Jane, a missing "runaway." If Caden and Brynne have any hope of returning to Razon, they must save the girl. But how? This is the first book in The Last Dragon Charmer, a middle grade fantasy series.

Type of Reading: bedtime story, independent reading, read aloud book

Recommended Age: read together: 9 and Up; read yourself: 10 and Up

Interest Level: 9 to 12

Reading Level: 4.7

Young Reader Reaction: Review pending.

Adult Reader Reaction: As someone who has visited Asheville, NC, the story offered a familiar setting ... and a little extra fun. While Brynne seems to have immediately become "a local," Caden has not. They provide both humor and reflection. Fantasy is not my favorite genre, but this is an enjoyable (if somewhat predictable) read. I'm looking forward to Book 2.

Pros: Magic, adventure, and (grudging) friendship combine in this action-packed fantasy for dragon seekers and dragon slayers! The story is set in high school, and will be attractive for teens and older readers, as well.

Cons: None.

Borrow or Buy: Borrow. This is a worthwhile read and a book you can share with upper elementary, middle school, and high school audiences.

If You Liked This Book, Try: THE LAST DRAGON (Dragon Speaker Series)   DRAGONS FROM THE SEA (The Strongbow Saga, Book 2)   THE ILLUSTRATED GUIDE TO MYTHICAL CREATURES

Educational Themes: This is a fantasy adventure to read for fun. Although teens may not know princes from faraway realms, there are most likely peers who are not unlike Caden who come from different cultures. They may not know our language (Caden can't read print), they may be *stuck* on unfamiliar practices (Caden's rituals for training to be an Elite Paladin). Pull out those elements to talk about empathy and taking notice of others.

Notes: The publisher donated a copy of this book knowing that we would consider it for review and provide an independent, unbiased profile. This book will be given to a nonprofit to help readers in need.

Literary Categories: Fiction - fantasy, adventure, magic, middle grade series, dragons

Date(s) Reviewed: October 2015

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