Monday, August 23, 2021

Review: Dragons Walk Among Us by Dan Rice with Giveaway!

 Happy Monday! Anyone ready for some dragons? It seems like a good way to start off the week, and today's review caught my eye. This one is a young adult novel about dragons hiding in our modern world, and that with teen drama. I was sure that this one would be a dramatic mix, so let's take a look!


Dragons Walk Among Us
The Allison Lee Chronicles Book 1
by Dan Rice
YA Fantasy

At times it's hard to believe what you see.

Shutterbug Allison Lee is trying to survive high school while suffering the popular girl's abuse. Her life is often abysmal, but at least her green hair is savage. Her talent for photography is recognized by the school paper and the judges of a photo contest.

While visiting her friend Joe, a homeless vet, Allison's life irrevocably changes after an attack leaves her blind. All her dreams as a photojournalist are dashed as she realizes she'll never see again. Despair sets in until she is offered an experimental procedure to restore her vision. But there are side effects, or are they hallucinations? She now sees dragons accompanying some of the people she meets. Can she trust her eyes, or has the procedure affected her more than she can see?

Debut author Rice offers an allegorical YA fantasy novel about the transformative power of self-love.

Savvy, coffee-loving teenager Allison Lee is strong beyond her years. The biracial girl faces open discrimination and also copes with her apparent abandonment by her mother, who disappeared several years ago. She’s developed a keen sense of social justice along with a skill for photography. When a mysterious stalker hits her over the head, leaving her blind, she turns to an experimental eye-surgery procedure that forever changes her view of the world. Once, Allison saw her camera as her window to the truth; now, with her naked eye, she’s able to see mythological creatures that aren’t visible to other humans and that fight to protect their way of life. Allison’s ability results in her embarking on a dangerous adventure as she discovers her own highly unusual dragon-hunting legacy. She faces mortal peril as she protects humans and other creatures from a violent, otherworldly onslaught. Along the way, she also gets in touch with her own physical and emotional resilience. Although dragons play a central role in Rice’s work, the heart of the narrative is found in simple humanity and in a celebration of differences. Throughout, characters demonstrate emotional growth as they confront their limiting beliefs about others and embrace a sense of family. The story addresses serious, socially relevant subject matter, such as discrimination, poverty, and bullying, but it’s never preachy; indeed, it has a lighthearted tone that will resonate with adolescent readers. It concludes on an affirming, heartfelt note that will leave readers thoroughly satisfied yet also curious about the future of Rice’s magical fictional world.

An inspirational and socially relevant fantasy.”

Kirkus Reviews

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Teen drama, family struggles, and coming-of-age mix with dragons to form an intriguing read.

Allison can't believe that she actually won the photograph contest at her high school...much to the disappointment of the school's mean girl. Steaming from the girl's latest attack, Allison heads to a friend but is physically attacked from behind. After a couple weeks of coma, she wakes to find herself blind. The only way to regain her sight is to undergo a very new and not-yet-approved surgery. But her new eyes bring more back than just the ability to see again. 

I read the title and blurb on this one and knew I had to get my hands on it. The surmise already is grabbing as the idea of dragons disguised as humans wander the modern world. Now, this is a young adult novel, and the author did stick to the usual run somewhat, too. There's Allison, a misfit who doesn't really except herself, her true blue friends, the mean girl, a concerned dad, and unknown evils. High school drama plays a role as well as high school romance. Then, there's the entire ordeal of learning to feel good in your own skin...which this novel really sinks into nicely. So, with all the dragon wonderfulness, this is a young adult novel.

Allison is easy to like. She's a bit snarky, doesn't always make the best decisions, and still, means well with her heart of gold. Sometimes, she reacts a bit fast and without enough thought, but she fits her age very well. She's the kind of girl, many teens would probably want as a friend, and with her troubles, it's not hard to root for her. She has a lot to learn, and this is done well. Even her friends and her go through some rough spots, but it's also a group to cheer on and like, even when they do make mistakes. Add the good relationship Allison has with her father and grandparents, and there are many warming aspects as well. 

The dragons don't really start up until well into the novel...and that works, since Allison has to build up to that point first. The reader gets to know her and her situation well, and even this part is written well enough. It is a well-paced plot with many surprises along the way. The dragons, of course, are intriguing, and this does make for a very intriguing and grabbing plot. The author does a good job at weaving them in and letting the tension climb and hit. There are more than a few stumbling areas, though, where some logic and reactions don't quite sit as smoothly as they could. And a few spots did have me pausing to figure out if I'd understood something correctly or not. The characters did sometimes react a little off as well. But this just kept the book from be as amazing as it could have been. Even with these smaller issues, it's a fun read and easy to breeze through.

There are more than a few messages in this one. First, there's the coming-of-age end, which was well done. Allison's development and acceptance hits home. Even her care of those around her is inspiring as well as the family relations. Friendship is also golden as is dealing with peers. Some aspects were a bit tossed in with the feeling that a list was trying to be met, though, which weakened the tale more than giving it extra depth. But even, here, it wasn't enough to ruin the story, either. 

All in all, this is a fun, exciting read for young adult fans. I did enjoy reading it. 

Dan has wanted to write novels since first reading Frank Herbert's Dune at the age of eleven. A native of the Pacific Northwest, he often goes hiking with his family through mist-shrouded forests and along alpine trails with expansive views.

Dragons Walk Among Us is his debut novel. He plans to keep writing fantasy and science-fiction for many years.

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Debbie P said...

This sounds like an excellent read. Great cover!

Mary Preston said...

The cover is stunning. Great titbits.

Heather N. Quinn said...

Thanks for including the trailer. They're always fun!

Zayden Wood said...

Nice post.