An un-put-down-able story that combines excitement and action with strong and believable characters.
Few people would be happy living in a remote farmhouse on Mount Snowdon, especially when that means spending Christmas without any electricity – no heating, no way to charge your phone, no telly and no Christmas dinner. But when you’re sixteen, like Ellie Morgan, it can become almost unbearable. All Ellie wants is a regular ‘four-by-four life’ with four walls around her and four wheels under her, all designed to keep her safe. But safe is one thing that Ellie’s not destined to be … not from the moment she glimpses the strange boy through the mist and snow and sets her heart on discovering who (and what) he is.
Mixing legend with modern technology, Here Be Dragons is full of pace and action as Ellie faces everything from the perils of the treacherous winter conditions on Snowdon to the dangers of real fire and ice-breathing dragons. However, it is the characters that really drive the narrative forward. From page one, the authentic teen voice of Ellie Morgan pulls us into the story and creates an immediate affinity with the reader.
Through Ellie’s eyes we meet, love and hate the other characters from Ellie’s friends, Rhiannon and Sheila the cow, to the enigmatic Henry (aka Sir Henry Pendragon de Clare). However, it is to the steadfast, strong and loyal boy-next-door, George, to whom the reader’s heart goes out. Ellie might think loves lies elsewhere but, as the reader, we’re all routing for George.
To be honest I’m not usually a big fan of romance stories but, in this case, I’m prepared to make an exception. I’ve already mentioned the strong characters and the tense and exciting action but I also loved the moments of humour (and the fact the author doesn’t take herself too seriously). For example, I couldn’t resist a wry smile as the author plucked my thoughts straight out of my head on page 86. Here, as Henry explains to Ellie that he doesn’t sleep, I had a deja-vu moment that was almost immediately expressed by Ellie herself – ‘’Who DOESN’T sleep (apart from EVIL, and Edward in TWILIGHT)?’’
The first part of a trilogy, I approached the story’s climax with some trepidation praying that I wouldn’t be left with a cliff-hanger ending. I was, therefore, immensely relieved to find this stands as a book in its own right with a satisfying climax and conclusion.
I have only one tiny niggle with the book and that’s the checklists on pages 115 and 199 which summarise the questions Ellie (and the reader) has been puzzling over. The writing and structure of the book is so strong that these bullet point reminders are unnecessary. This is, however, a minor point.
Officially aimed at the teen market, this book will undoubtedly appeal to teenage girls whilst also being suitable for younger readers from around ten or eleven. Sarah Mussi has a distinct young adult voice so, if you enjoyed Here Be Dragons, you might also enjoy Sarah’s other must-read teen romance, Angel Dust. Alternatively for another story that combines action and romance try All My Secrets by Sophie McKenzie.
Date: September 2015
Publisher: Vertebrate Publishing
Author’s Website: Sarah Mussi
Review first published on The Bookbag