Also by this author: The Dream Traveler's Quest, Into the Book of Light, The Curse of Shadownman, The Garden and the Serpent, The Final Judgment, Millie Maven and the Bronze Medallion, Millie Maven and the Golden Vial, Millie Maven and the White Sword, Millie Maven, Play Dead, Nine
Series: And They Found Dragons
Published by Scripturo Genres: Children's, Fiction, Fantasy, Young Adult
With vivid imagery, a strong message, and an engaging story, Ted and Rachelle Dekker give young readers an adventure they’ll not be able to put down. And They Found Dragons is an intense, thought-provoking, mind-opening, fantastical journey into a dangerous world where the future of humanity is at stake and the dragons are unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. In a story that is signature Dekker, Ted and Rachelle walk the tightrope between thriller and allegory, penning an exciting, meaningful story that explores the terrible effects of living in fear and judgment.
In the wake of a nuclear war that destroyed the earth, a remnant escaped to the stars. When time came to return home, they discovered something most unusual. Dragons inhabited the earth and their breath was toxic to humans. Children were less susceptible to the dragon toxin and so children would need to become humanity’s saviors, killing the dragons and reclaiming the earth as home. Simple enough, right? Except once the team arrives on Earth’s surface, things go wrong very quickly. Jack Solomon will have to use his wits and his faith to figure out a new plan—otherwise humanity is doomed.
The Dekkers offer a perfect blend of metaphor and literalism, allowing young readers, usually very concrete thinkers, to grasp both the surface-level story and the deep message that drives the narrative. That message is one that sits at the core of many of Ted and Rachelle’s recent novels: Fear blinds us to the light of God’s love. It was fear and judgment that destroyed the earth in war. It was fear and judgment that led to the rise of Dragons. And now, only light and love can bring salvation.
The thematic strains of And They Found Dragons reflect Dekker’s fantasy work throughout his career, whether it’s the diabolical red dragons (what is a dragon but a scaly black bat, anyway?) or an immunity that comes through special blood. It’s different enough to not be derivative of those works, but gives that old imagery new nuance while wrapping it in a story intended for a younger audience. Fans of Dekker’s work that may not fit the intended demographic will still have fun, putting on the mind of the child (and isn’t that what it’s all about?) and exploring this new, but still somehow familiar world.
The series is written for an upper elementary level audience, similar to Ted and Rachelle’s previous Millie Maven books. Like those books, there were times I wanted more or felt that some elements were sort of dropped in conveniently out of nowhere. Why did X event happen? Why is Y rule necessary? Well, it’s just needed to move the story forward. If you’re understanding the overarching allegory, then you get why the Dekkers moved the story this way, because the narrative needs to fit the message. This is forgivable in children’s fiction, where the story should be simpler and more straightforward and foreshadowing should be pretty blatant. The Dekkers have the mechanics of storytelling for this age group down well. They have the eyes of a child in more ways than one as they encourage young readers to slay their own dragons and keep their childlike faith even as they grow older.
Though it’s divided into three books, And They Found Dragons is really one story. While the breaks between books are a little more climactic than chapter breaks, neither are they cliffhangers that then immediately get resolved in the next book. I really appreciate that, because it shows that the Dekkers aren’t into manufacturing drama. All three books are being published as a set at the same time. This prevents the problem of diminishing returns while eliminating the marketing need to end on high-stakes drama. Not that there isn’t high-stakes drama, but the Dekkers are freer to develop the story as it should be told—basically modifying a three-act structure to tell a single narrative in three books. Each leads seamlessly into the next.
I’ve long felt that Christian fiction has been lacking in strong upper-elementary level books. The Dekkers have taken that age-range and settled into it, offering parents and readers good quality options that lie between chapter books and YA fantasy. Clean storytelling with a strong moral, And They Found Dragons is a must-read for your young reader. The only reason to put the book is down is to pick up the next one in the series.