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July 18, 2021

Dragons Walk Among Us by Dan Rice ~ a Review

by MK French

Allison Lee was bullied in high school and loses her vision when visiting her friend Joe, a homeless vet. When an attack leaves her blind, her dreams of being a photojournalist are destroyed. An experimental treatment restores her vision, but she begins to see dragons everywhere. Is she hallucinating? Or has the procedure affected her in other ways?

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

Dragons Walk Among Us
July 2021; Wild Rose Press; 978-1509236558
ebook, print (366 pages); YA fantasy

Allison is biracial, though she lives with her white father and her Chinese mother had taken off soon after she was born. The girl bullying her, the “perfect” girl in high school, uses that to sling racial slurs at her in the beginning of the novel. It’s an uncomfortable moment and does go counter to the impression that all bullies are the dumb kids in class. Allison further suffers when hit in the head for her attack, leaving her in a coma and then blinded. Any 16 year old would be devastated by this, and we’re hit with it all inside the first three chapters. Then comes a lengthy section regarding the eye prosthetics and recovery period for Allison before she can see the dragons. At that point, the scifi nanotech side of the story slips into a fantasy story, with dragons fighting off another type of strange creature, and their belief that Allison is involved with those creatures. Her friends get drawn into the story, and both add and take away from the drama of the story. 

The teenage voice is pretty good, and I love how Allison’s father is an active parent who clearly loves his daughter and is loved in return. Many YA stories seem to conveniently forget that parents exist. With one student commenting on the shape of her eyes in the beginning of the story and few microaggressions afterward, it’s hard to see why Allison would snap. Reality is certainly full of minor microaggressions based on race or gender, but we don’t see enough of the student body in the beginning third of the book to really get a sense of the bullying outside of one student. There’s another one later in the book that makes offhand comments not just about Allison, but Haji as well. This is mirrored in how the dragons view the skaag, who are meant to destroy dragons. The second half of the novel is then an investigation into the skaag and how to keep dragons safe on Earth.

There’s a lot in the second half, but I still found myself skimming. Some places had a lot of detail and it felt repetitious, and in others, I didn’t feel the emotional loss of characters the way I really should have. Those would be traumatic scenes, but I think the media interruptions really turned me off and derailed the emotional flow. Otherwise, it’s an interesting concept, and I would’ve liked to see more emotional tension between the characters we’re really supposed to care about.

Born and raised in New York City, M.K. French started writing stories when very young, dreaming of different worlds and places to visit. She always had an interest in folklore, fairy tales, and the macabre, which has definitely influenced her work. She currently lives in the Midwest with her husband, three young children, and a golden retriever.

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