Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Buried Fire by Jonathan Stroud

Author: Jonathan Stroud
ISBN # 0099402475

Publisher: Red Fox

First Published: 1999

300 pages

Rating: 7/10

When Michael staggers home red-eyed and confused from an afternoon alone on the hill, his family suspect sunstroke, or even drugs. But the truth is more terrifying than that. By digging up a Celtic cross in the churchyard, church excavators have released the evil influences of a dragon long buried under the neighbouring hill, and powerful forces are at large Sinister neighbours have already yielded to the enticements of this power and are determined to make Michael one of their own. The fragile bonds that link Michael with his brother and sister are seemingly about to be destroyed in a fight for his soul...

I’m not usually a fan of “dragon fantasy”, but this one is a rare exception, as it draws strongly from British folklore of dragon slayers, such as the tale of St. George and the Dragon or the Lambton Worm, yet sets the action firmly in the present. It explores the themes of power at a price and the changes that occur as you grow up, meaning extra responsibility and the consideration of others in your actions, as well as exploring slightly supernatural themes. Stroud is very expressive and the language, although complex enough to engage older readers, is still simple enough to appeal to those just entering their teens.

The characters are slightly stereotypical, almost cartoonish, in places, but there remains a sense of grounded reality underneath, which keeps the plot anchored within the realms of the almost-possible. This is exactly the kind of fare that might entice boys to read a little more.


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