Last month I binge-read a lot of Scarlett Thomas‘ novels- mostly her Lily Pascale series (hilarious and underrated- we need more of these!) but I also picked up her latest novel, Dragon’s Green, the first in the Worldquake Sequence, a fantasy series for children.
Dragon’s Green follows Effie, a student at the Tusitala School for the Gifted and Strange. After her grandfather falls ill, she discovers that she is set to inherit the family library- and with it magical adventures, a rag-tag group of friends, and suitably sinister villains to boot.
Although the novel may seem as though it is another Harry Potter-esque series involving a magical school, it really isn’t. Very little action takes place in the school, and instead revolves around the Truelove family library and its books. There are also brief forays into magical bun shops which are portals to the Otherworld, finishing schools for princesses, and naturally, a dragon’s lair- Thomas really plays with the best elements of fantasy and children’s literature, and creates a very rich environment for her characters to adventure around. The main world in which the novel also unfolds also deserves a mention- it has experienced a ‘Worldquake’- no more wifi, mobile phones are only used as calculators and torches, and residents debate whether magic truly exists. Thomas only touches on this a few times, but I hope subsequent novels explore this, as this main setting is certainly intriguing.
I was initially unsure about the novel’s characters, having found some of Thomas’ creations for her adult audience somewhat hit and miss, however my concern was unfounded. Effie is a very capable young heroine- brave and inquisitive, inspiring and bringing out the best in her party. She is the sort of character I would have adored as a younger reader. The other characters- Maximilian, Wolf, Raven, and Lexy- though not developed as thoroughly as Effie, are quirky and show promise, each with some intriguing titbits of background and connections to the novel’s darker elements, and I look forward to seeing where Thomas takes them.
Dragon’s Green is a promising start to what looks as though it will be a bloody good children’s series. Although I think it is perhaps more suited to the younger end of the young adult spectrum, there’s plenty for older and adult readers to enjoy. It’s worth noting that Thomas’ love of literature shines through her writing- there are references to literary and classical texts which I defy any book lover or lit graduate not to miss. There are also elements which evoke the best D&D games, which I’ve no doubt roleplayers will also find amusing- particularly Thomas’ classification of characters and their roles within the magical world. Overall, it’s a good, fun read and I hope it receives the success it deserves.