Friday, September 27, 2019

Review: Dragonwatch: Master of the Phantom Isle by Brandon Mull

by Brandon Mull
Shadow Mountain
Middle Grade Fantasy
around 500 pages
ages 9 to 12

OCTOBER 1st, 2019!!!

Cursed by the Key of Forgetting, Seth has lost all memory of his past—his relationships, his experiences, and who he really is. For now he will align with his new mentor, Ronodin, the dark unicorn, who takes him to the Phantom Isle, the secret gateway to the Under Realm. Though Seth is not formally a prisoner, Ronodin wants to use him and his shadow charmer powers for his own dark ends.

Kendra is frantic to find her missing brother, but the quest will take her and her companions, including Warren, Tanu, and Vanessa, far from Wyrmroost to Crescent Lagoon—a recently fallen dragon sanctuary made up of many islands and underwater domains. Its caretaker has regained a foothold on one of the islands. If Kendra and her friends can save that sanctuary, they might uncover the answers they need to rescue Seth.

With each sanctuary the dragons overthrow, Celebrant, the Dragon King, comes closer to the dawn of a new Age of Dragons. With the forces of darkness on the march, can Kendra and her allies gather enough power to win the epic dragon war?


Fantasy takes an edge-of-the-seat, roller coaster ride in this exciting adventure, which doesn't let up until the last page...and then, with the promise of more.

(Note: This can be read as a stand-alone, but I wouldn't recommend that. The story takes off where book two ended and without reading the rest of the series, much background information is missing, which makes this book that much more enjoyable)

Seth finds himself in the darkness of the Under Realm as the student of the dark unicorn. After saving the day in book two, he's lost his memory and doesn't know who to trust or what he's really done. He only knows that there is a darkness of sorts with him, and although he has no reason to mistrust the unicorn, he's sure he isn't evil. Kendra, on the other hand, is determined to find Seth, but with dark forces on the march and being the sole remaining protector of Wyrmroost, she has quite a bit of other things to deal with as well. Although the last battle was won, darkness has not given up and is coming back more relentless than before.

Fantasy fans are going to love this series. It has dragons, magic, fairies, phantoms, unicorns, trolls...basically, everything the fantasy heart can desire. And it has heroes, ones that are easy for the age group to connect to. Seth and Kendra might be the heroes, but they aren't perfect and have a lot to learn. Still, their determination and desire to get things right make them easy to stand behind and root for.

The plot twists and turns, making it impossible to guess what those evil villains have up their sleeve. Not only that, but some aren't as evil (or as good) as they might appear. This is a very layered story with many unexpected moments and even more that keep the reader glued in the pages, wondering what will happen next.

The tale is told from various points of view, but mostly settles on Kendra and Seth. While their adventures only have them intersecting with a dab, the stories intertwine masterfully. The writing style is very easy to read, sticking heavily to dialogue and skipping over anything 'frilly'. It makes for a fast read even at 500 or so pages. The length did make me hesitate. Even afterwards, I'm not sure it couldn't have been tightened up a bit since this tale does have the heroes shooting all over the place with tons of side characters in tow. But it is a fun tale and one I'm sure kids will enjoy.

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