Wednesday, October 19, 2011


Title: Dragonhaven
Category: Fantasy
Grades: 8-12
Author: RobinMcKinley
Publisher: G.P.Putnam’s Sons
Date: 2007
Pages: 342

Although Jake hoped to see dragons on his first solo foray into the wilds of Smokehill National Park, he did not expect to encounter one dying next to the poacher she had killed.  He certainly did not expect to find the last of her babies still living or end up being the caretaker of an illegal infant dragonet.  As Lois grows more and more difficult to care for and keep hidden, Jake and other park rangers trying to save her concoct a scheme to move Lois out into the wilds of the park again.  Soon Jake is caught up in the mysterious culture of the dragons as they seek to reconnect with their lost one, and he becomes their unlikely spokesperson, mediating between the dying dragon race and a world of humans who fear them.

McKinley does have a gift for telling a story, and that is evident in Dragonhaven if one has the perseverance to progress far enough into the book to find it.  While McKinley’s characterization is strong, and her premise oddly believable, Jake’s disjointed and often fragmented way of telling the story may give many readers difficulty following the tale or becoming invested in it.  A slow starter, the book nevertheless takes some very interesting spins, and McKinley certainly does not fall into the category of “predictable.”  Dragonhaven is a unique take on a favorite topic, and Jake’s teen and then adult role as “dragon ambassador,” along with the complexity of the Smokehill dragons’ knowledge and culture may appeal quite strongly to dragon and fantasy fans.


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