Surprising and highly entertaining fantasy story.
I was asked to read a kids fantasy novel and before I could decline (since book reviews were not my forte) they added, “It’s about transgender 12 year old and a dragon.” More then a little intrigued I picked up and started reading.
It grabbed me in the way that Harry Potter grabbed me. It’s not complex in it’s writing but the adventure that young Quinn goes on after touching a strange coin was packed with intrigue and danger.
Quinn and his best friend are lamenting how both his school and family keep treating him like a girl. When he is transported to Aldia he is instantly recognized as the boy he is. In this world gender is accepted how it is presented and he will soon discover wardrobe and relationships are also wildly varied and heartily common place.
The first person Quinn meets is Teodor, who is young Wyvern (not a dragon as I was mistakenly told). Wyverns live side by side with humans and come in a variety of races most with remarkable abilities, like power over elements, breathing fire or performing magic. They have no legs, so they glide along the ground or use their wings to fly.
Teodor is an Ethereal Wyvern, a race that it treated with derision because of their ability to turn invisible. He takes Quinn to the village of Minstra where all of the Wyvern’s (including him) are under a curse; whenever they try to fly, their wings crumble to dust.
As Quinn tries to find a way home he discouvers that he might be key to breaking the curse. He sets off with small collection of allies which is handy because the forces of evil are in hot pursuit.
Author Kyle McGiverin knows how to craft a wild and captivating story with so many plot twists that as it continues you start turning the pages faster. He also knows how to deepen relationships and back stories of some of the main characters so that you start to care what happens to them.
Probably the most intriguing part of the story for me as a cis-white older man was how using first person narrative when the story is told from Quinn’s point of view I got real insight how a Trans kid feels when trapped in the wrong body. Both the negative feelings of shame, anger and fear but also the positive ones like relief, joy and love. I had never seen the world through this set of eyes before and I found it intoxicatingly refreshing.
It is a book for young adults so a few of the plot twists I could predict but I was also very happy that one of the philosophies that Quinn kept exposing that I took umbrage with was actually a clever setup for a life lesson later in the story.
Mr. McGiven is a teacher and human rights activist from Toronto, Canada and he deserves to be supported.
If you love fantasy stories, with magic and flying and danger, than you will enjoy the world and cast of characters he has created. Totally enchanting.
I think trans and cis people will also get so much out seeing this adventure through young Quinn’s eyes. There is so much humanity and compassion it can’t help but provoke empathy.
I loved thinking back to my youth and wished there were books like this. I was sad but satisfied when the story ended and hope there will be a Book 2.
Here is the link on Amazon so you can order it.
The illustrations are by Toby Medeiros.
David C. Jones