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, whether it’s the destined hero or its European-centric mythology, and personally I’m exhausted by this type of fantasy, but Owens redeems the reading experience by the depth of characters — they are more than just cardboard cut-outs.
Overall, Here, There Be Dragons was quick and enjoyable and contains easter eggs for astute and well-read readers. The illustrations in the book are gorgeous and are a perfect fit for the black-and-white printing of this novel.
FanLit thanks Charles Tan from Bibliophile Stalker for contributing this guest review.
The Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica — (2006-2013) Young adult. Publisher: The Imaginarium Geographica “What is it?” John asked. The little man blinked and arched an eyebrow. “It is the world, my boy,” he said. “All the world, in ink and blood, vellum and parchment, leather and hide. It is the world, and it is yours to save or lose.” An unusual murder brings together three strangers, John, Jack, and Charles, on a rainy night in London during the first World War. An eccentric little man called Bert tells them that they are now the caretakers of the Imaginarium Geographica — an atlas of all the lands that have ever existed in myth and legend, fable and fairy tale. These lands, Bert claims, can be traveled to in his ship the Indigo Dragon, one of only seven vessels that is able to cross the Frontier between worlds into the Archipelago of Dreams. Pursued by strange and terrifying creatures, the companions flee London aboard the Dragonship. Traveling to the very realm of the imagination itself, they must learn to overcome their fears and trust in one another if they are to defeat the dark forces that threaten the destiny of two worlds. And in the process, they will share a great adventure filled with clues that lead readers to the surprise revelation of the legendary storytellers these men will one day become. An extraordinary journey of myth, magic, and mystery, Here, There Be Dragons introduces James A. Owen as a formidable new talent.