Sure to appeal to fans of Rick Riordan and Eoin Colfer, this action-packed tale takes readers on an unforgettable journey through an alternate version of our world in 1941—a world filled with magical beings such as dragons in human form, tiny “lap griffins,” reincarnations of legendary Chinese warriors, Japanese folk creatures, and goddesses in disguise.
When her older sister dies trying to prevent the theft of one of her people’s great treasures, twelve-year-old Scirye sets out to avenge her and recover the precious item. Helping her are Bayang, a dragon disguised as a Pinkerton agent; Leech, a boy with powers he has not yet discovered; and Leech’s loyal companion Koko, who has a secret of his own. All have a grudge against the thieves who stole the treasure: the evil dragon Badik and the mysterious Mr. Roland.
Scirye and her companions pursue the thieves to Houlani, a new Hawaiian island being created by magic. There, they befriend Pele, the volatile and mercurial goddess of volcanoes. But even with Pele on their side, they may not be able to stop Mr. Roland from gaining what he seeks: the Five Lost Treasures of Emperor Yu. Together, the treasures will give him the power to alter the very fabric of the universe. (from Goodreads)
Amazing and fun things in this book:
- It’s set in California! And also Hawaii! Now that I live in California, I’ve been especially interested in books set here (especially especially if they’re set in places I’ve visited). City of Fire takes place (mostly) in San Francisco, which I sadly have not been to yet. But I’m planning on going soon! Yay!
- There’s a good balance between more lighthearted fantasy stuff and darker, more depressing things. It’s a childrens/middle grade book, so there’s nothing TOO bad, but it’s still not all fun and games.
- The characters were as varied in their personalities as they were in their ethnicities. Huzzah!
- Good balance of male and female characters! No one gender casting in this book.
- The plot was full of action and also emotions! My favorite thing was the slow realization that maybe people CAN change for the better, especially if they’ve been reborn a couple hundred times.
- Sometimes there was a bit too much “and this person was totally scary!” narration without actually backing it up in the rest of the story. Intellectually, yes, this person was scary (or mercurial or whatever). But in the actual story? Maybe not shown as much as it needed to be.
- The ending was a horrible cliffhanger-y thing designed to lead into the second book. It made the success of defeating the baddie much less satisfactory than it would have been otherwise.
The good points definitely outweigh the not-so-good, and I very much enjoyed reading it. Would read again/will read the rest of the trilogy! And also other books written by the author!
Read: September 29-October 01, 2013
This was my very first Laurence Yep book! (I think. I may have read his Royal Diaries book way back when.) What should I read next after this series?