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Young readers book reviews for ages 8 to 12 years old

*Kira (Shadow of the Dragon)* by Kate O'Hearn- young readers book review
Kira (Shadow of the Dragon)
by Kate O'Hearn
Grades 5-8 307 pages Kane/Miller June 2009 Hardcover    

The suppression of the female half of the population has been law for generations under the King’s oppressive rule. Due to the King’s hatred for young females, he continues to enforce the oppression of females through his ancestor’s First Law, forbidding females from education, travel, tomboy activities, etc. In a world where knights are required to mount dragons and not horses, the defenseless position females are left in is quite dangerous—to what extent will soon be seen.

Kira is being forced into a marriage with a young man from a neighboring village. First Law requires that she marry by the age of thirteen - or else. At twelve years old, she is no more ready to settle into marriage than her younger sister is. Her dreams of being a dragon knight and taming the deadly rogue dragon Ferarchie are slipping through her fingers.

Lord Dorcon—enemy of her father and one of the king’s most evil men—may prove to be the most important wrench in her life when his deadly appearance casts Kira and her sister, Shadow, onto the path to Ferarchie’s mountain. Alone, with only the guidance of an unexpected friend, Kira finds a whole new world open to Shadow and herself. Lord Dorcon—and the king’s army—will not stop hunting them, especially when Ferarchie’s rogue tactics continue to pick off knights yet Kira still lives.

The raging war resulting from the king’s selfish ambitions leaves a monstrous task for Kira and her new loyal friend. A thirteen-year-old girl taking on king and country seems rather futile, but Kira knows without a doubt that her role in the survival of the majority of the female population is imperative. She also knows that she can’t do it alone. Good thing she has made some important friends with very special talents.

In the face of all she has accomplished in challenging the king and the evil Lord Dorcon, there is little surprise left to be felt at the awesome sight of the war being brought to her door. If she and her ragtag entourage can escape, they will live to fight another day on behalf of the oppressed and tortured. If not, no one will be safe from the nightmare of the king’s reign.

Kate O’Hearn has put together a strong-willed, competent duo in her protagonists, Kira and Shadow. Their qualities and fictional actions are far more impressive than the protaganists from the many comparable series that have gained popularity over the last decade. It will be exciting to see the maturation of the both characters and of the story when Book Two’s launches.

A novel intended for young readers, Kira does have enough violence to merit comment. Shadow of the Dragon is about dragons, knights, swordfighting, and life in a time when violence reigned. Blood, murder, and inhumane atrocities are all found throughout the novel but are not without meaning.

Children today are exposed to more violence in the video games and television shows that are part of the cultre, and the message of cruelty may have been lost. This novel’s violence is tied to the deeper message O’Hearn expresses in her tale, about cruelty, injustice, power through fear and starvation, and the importance of standing up to the bullies who would cow others.

Shadow of the Dragon is a budding series that is reminiscent of Harry Potter and Pendragon in style, character, and potential.

Young readers book reviews for ages 8 to 12 years old

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  Sonia R. Polinsky/2010 for curled up with a good kid's book  

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