Friday, September 4, 2009


Title: Icefire

Series: Dragons #2
(Book One's review here.)

Author: Chris D’Lacey

Genre: Tween (10-14) Magical Realism

Excerpt from “The Wishing Dragon,” of Icefire:

“David, if your face grows any longer your chin will be scraping the soles of your shoes.” Elizabeth Pennykettle hung up her apron and half scowled, half smiled at her student tenant. “What’s the matter?”

“Give you one guess,” the tenant muttered cheerlessly. He walked into the kitchen, his mouth turned down in a curve of disappointment. In his hand, he was flapping a letter. As he approached the kitchen table he pushed the letter under the snout of a dragon, which was sitting by a jar of raspberry jelly. “Here, torch that.”

The little clay dragon remained unmoved.

On the far side of the table Mrs. Pennykettle’s daughter, Lucy, remarked, “You mustn’t say that to the dragons. They’re not allowed to burn things, are they, Mom?”

“No,” said Mrs. Pennykettle, glancing at the letters. “I take it that’s another rejection?”

David nodded. “Complete with coffee stain. This makes fourteen now. And they all say the same. Dear Mr. Rain. Thanks, but no thanks. No one wants to hear about Snigger the squirrel.”

A college student, eager to win a research trip to the Artic, seeks answers about dragons, polar bears, and an ancient fire tear.

The Craft: The craft of Icefire picks up where The Fire Within left off. While still simple and easy to read in style, this novel increases tension and introduces a complex but intriguing plot that will carry into books three and four. Sometimes this results in minor confusion with point-of-view, but overall it works well.

Meanwhile, the characters continue to be the highlight of the writing. Funny but complex with just enough surprises to keep you on your toes, they provide a sense of whimsy while adding to the story’s momentum.

The Content: Icefire has many content issues that caused me to pause with concern:

--There is some mild language (like geez) sprinkled throughout the book.

--The hero speaks of moving in with his girlfriend without concern or reproof from other characters, although it never comes to fruition. (Yes, he is non-Christian, so we can't expect otherwise, but remember, this book is targeted toward pre-teens.)

--The hero spends dubious time with second girl while girlfriend is away. At least the hero struggles here with matters of conscience.

--The environmental issues continue to gain strength.

--Very human characters wield magical powers.

--The lines between good and bad, especially in areas of magic, have become blurred.

But perhaps the thing that concerns me the most is the predominating American Indian-type mythology. While these elements are clearly named (no sneaking in the backdoor) and my sense is that they are employed for furthering the environmental themes, things like animal spirits, talismans, other planes of existence, and a Mother Earth goddess (including offering prayers to her) should nothing be trifled with.

Summary: While Icefire offers a delightful and engaging tale, it is also riddled with content concerns, made all more concerning by how well the story is told. Therefore, I recommend avoiding, as a whole, Icefire and its subsequent books, in which these content problems appear to become even more predominate.

Also as a result, I will not be reviewing any further books in this series.

Rating: Craft—5, Content—1, Overall—1.7 out of 5 stars

No comments: