Charlie Fletcher’s first, fantastic adult novel, The Oversight, is looking to be one of my favourite books this year, so you can imagine my excitement on hearing that Fletcher has begun a new children’s fantasy trilogy. The first of the series, Dragon Shield, is an exuberant quest through a fantastical London that should appeal to all magic-loving children.
Set in the same world as Fletcher’s previous Stoneheart trilogy, the enemy this time is even greater than fire-breathing dragon statues and gargoyles (taints). In the British Museum, an ancient power has awoken, stopping time and keeping all humans as still as statues. As the warmth begins to fade, siblings Will and Jo navigate their now frozen world, trying to find out why they are the only people still moving – and why they may be the only ones who can bring the world back to life. Luckily there are statues on their side, including the cheeky Tragedy and steadfast Fusilier, and with their help, Will and Jo may unravel the mysteries surrounding them – if they have time.
As always, high expectations can turn to disappointment, and though that fortunately wasn’t the case for me with Dragon Shield, I didn’t find myself falling as completely in love with the story and characters this time around. The writing and plot are simple without being patronizing, and it’s very clear that this series is aimed at younger readers, which is no bad thing – I simply don’t see it transcending its genre. The lovely, shadowy illustrations throughout really help bring the story to life, and I’m sure children will be looking at familiar statues very differently after reading Dragon Shield, to see if they are really as still as they seem. While the writing itself falls a little short of The Oversight (which sets a very high bar) I can imagine that children will absolutely love this exciting new series.