Monday, November 25, 2019

Dragonwatch: Master of the Phantom Isle - Brandon Mull


Summary: 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? 
(Summary and image from goodreads.com. I was provided a copy in exchange for an honest review.)

My Review: Sometimes when you’re a few books into a series (or a group of series), you start to notice the formula of the author. It’s always a bit tricky when that happens - if the author is good, it’s inconsequential. But, more often than not, those formulas can start to dampen a reader’s enjoyment for a series.  The older I get, the easier it is to spot the formulas, and the more discerning I get with what I want to read.

I’m not going to lie, I’ve been in a massive reading rut the last few months. This book arrived, and I was reticent to pick it up. I don’t want to burn out of this series, I miss reading for fun, the excuses started to pile up, but I forced myself to try. It didn’t disappoint.

The formula is there. There’s a world-ending problem on the horizon, there’s a temple they need to descend into to stop it temporarily, there’s some confusion, and things don’t resolve because there are still a few books left in the series. But. BUT. Instead of formulaic mumbo-jumbo, we’re treated to some serious philosophical questions. Is anyone inherently good? Inherently evil? Is redemption possible for even the most fallen people?And once decisions are made, mistakes and triumphs are there, are they there to stay?

See?! Are these the kinds of questions you’d expect from a kids’ book!?

If there’s a formula for winning me over, it’s assuming the intelligence of the audience. Brandon Mull has always been good about that, but this book highlights his ability. His character development is uncanny here - and having a completely blank slate with a character that we already know and love introduces all new ways to push his audience. Finally, he executes it well. There’s enough in this book to make a casual reader happy, but also enough substance to engage your more critical reader. Win-Win.

My Rating: Four stars

For the Sensitive Reader: Pretty clean. There’s some death, and the questions Mull asks are difficult, but they’re well-handled.

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