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 complaint is that Owen is sparse when it comes to the physical descriptions of his characters. When it comes to our various protagonists, there’s really not a lot of detail. Whether Owen is relying on familiarity with the previous book or the included illustrations, or if his goal is to get straight to the action, is best left for the reader to decide. As for the new characters and villains introduced, they’re given ample description lines — perhaps more so than the established characters. The author also mentions and draws upon many myths, legends, and existing books, and I don’t know how effective these references will be for unfamiliar readers. Personally though, it all worked for me, and the tension is high when Owen reveals who this or that character is supposed to be.
Overall, The Search for the Red Dragon is quick and enjoyable, and adult readers will find Owen’s various references a treat as he manages to tie real world history with myth. As far as characterization goes, Owen relies more on the personality and dialogue of his characters, which for me works and helps the narrative focus on the action.
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.