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James A. Owen

James A OwensJames A. Owen has been working professionally as an illustrator and storyteller for more than two decades. Read “A Brief History of the Geographica” and sample chapters at James A Owen’s website.


Here, There Be Dragons: Quick, enjoyable, with Easter Eggs

Here, There Be Dragons by James A. Owen

The first thing that comes to mind when I read Here, There Be Dragons is that it's dual-layered. On one hand, it's your typical young adult fantasy where the protagonists enter another realm and end up saving it (although James A. Owens breaks convention by having a much older demographic as its heroes). On the other hand, more knowledgeable readers will catch various literary and mythical allusions that the author sprinkled into the story.

This is very much a young adult book, especially since Owens dives into the action quickly and the narrative is sparse when it comes to descriptions and detail. It moves at a quick pace, the suspense is steady, and every chapter has an immediacy to it. Older readers will probably be tickled by Owens's various references and the true identity of its main characters.

James A. Owens draws from fantasy conventions, whe... Read More

The Search for the Red Dragon: Quick and enjoyable

The Search for the Red Dragon by James A. Owen

The previous Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica book, Here There Be Dragons, had a clean ending, but The Search for the Red Dragon introduces a new conflict that's tied to the original adventure.

The strengths — and weaknesses — of the first book continue in The Search for the Red Dragon. The illustrations preceding each chapter are gorgeous, and James A. Owen's writing is plain, simple, and easy to get into. The mystery and dilemma are quickly established and the book has a "young adult" feel in terms of pacing and narrative technique. For example, I expected death to be uncommon in the novel, or at least that death would seldom be directly shown, and that prediction was pretty much on the dot.

My com... Read More

The Indigo King: High aspirations not quite met

The Indigo King by James A. Owen

The Indigo King has high aspirations that it sets up in terms of character and a large plot canvas, but doesn't really meet them, though it is a solid work of fantasy. It's major flaws are in its construction: a picaresque pastiche. The pastiche part is a myriad of legendary and mythological sources.

On the surface, one might expect such a all-encompassing field of sources ranging from Arthurian legends to Greek mythology to Tolkien and C.S. Lewis and Mark Twain (to name only some) would offer up a rich tapestry of fiction. But the opposite is true — we tend to land on these like a rock skipping across water and so we never really feel present in the mythology; they're never around long enough to awe us.

The picaresque structure of The Indigo King, set up via a multi-faceted quest that has the heroes popping a set number of times ... Read More

The Dragon’s Apprentice: Solid YA historical fantasy

The Dragon’s Apprentice by James A. Owen

The Dragon’s Apprentice is a delightful blend of historical fiction and urban fantasy. Written specifically for the young adult audience, James A. Owen’s latest installment in The Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica is really quite fun. For someone starting the series here, it is easy to adapt to the storyline and enjoy this novel.

The principle characters in The Dragon’s Apprentice are a group of English intellectuals, adult men who live in the 1940s, who have found a way to travel between our world and a parallel world at a time when fantastic creatures and magic abound. The process that leads to this traveling discovery is discussed in an earlier book, but it’s not necessary to have read that — there's more than enough going on in Read More