I am always interested in reading books in a new fantasy series, whether those books are written for young readers or the older crowd. I enjoy reading fantasy stories, especially if there’s a good dose of magic and dragons, and Laurie McKay’s debut novel in her Last Dragon Charmer series, The Villain Keeper, did not disappoint. However, this story is not what I expected. I was under the impression that it was a story about a child in a fantasy world dropped into a modern-day world, but it's not that at all. It's more of him going from one fantasy world to another. Yes, there be mortals here, but mostly, there are magical creatures who know where the main characters, Caiden and Brynne, are talking about when they speak of the Greater Realm. This did not ruin the reading experience for me, though. It just made the story more interesting and not so clichéd.
The story had good world building and fantasy elements but it's like the author tried too hard to make her fantastical world the real thing. It's kinda complicated. As an example, the blood dagger is "magic item number forty-three"? Even so, I just went with it. I thought it was hilarious how Caiden’s arch enemy, Rath Dunn AKA Mr. Rathis, was a math teacher and didn’t miss out on the sarcasm expressed by Caiden’s foster brother, Tito, over how the math teacher is the most evil person to be feared in the world. Many a time I thought my own math teachers were horrible, evil villains up to no good and forcing all of us through the torture of solving mathematical problems. A young reader could probably relate. While some of the story was predictable – and I say that as a 40-something reader and not as a reader for the targeted audience this book is written for – it was still an enjoyable story and I must confess that it was hard for me to stop reading it. I loved it! I would wager the same could be said of other readers in my age group who love a good fantasy story.
The Villain Keeper was an awesome story and an amazingly written first novel for a fantasy series that is sure to catch on to young readers.
The first book in an epic new series for fans of The School for Good and Evil and The Land of Stories.
All his life, Prince Caden has dreamed of slaying a dragon. But before he has the chance, he is ripped from his home in the Great Winterlands of Razzon and finds himself in Asheville, North Carolina—a land with no magic and no dragons.
Or so he thinks. The longer Caden spends in Asheville, the more he comes to realize that there is unexpected and dangerous magic in this strange land. There just may be dragons here, too. But what if Caden's destiny isn't to slay a dragon, after all?