Tuesday, May 21, 2019


Durst, Sarah Beth. Spark.
May 14th 2019 by Clarion
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Quiet Mina comes from a large, noisy family. When her storm beast egg starts to hatch, she is excited to bond with the animal and train it to help control the weather in Alorria, which is always temperate and beautiful because of this control. When Pixit is hatched, he turns out to be a lightning beast, which doesn't seem to fit with Mina's personality. Nevertheless, the pair are soon sent off to the capital to train at the Myrtis Lightning School. Once there, she makes friends with Jyx and her dragon Chauda, and starts to think that she might not be in the wrong place. When on a training flight, several members of the school get blown off course and end up on the other side of the mountains, where they are forbidden to be. There, Mina meets some of the outlanders who rescue her and help both her and Pixit heal and get home. They tell her that the ten-year storms that they have on their side of the mountain are deadly, and Mina starts to realize that they might be connected to the ten-year festival that is going to occur soon. On a class trip to the city, she runs into the prime minister by accident, and asks about this coincidence. The prime minister is outraged, but luckily one of the teachers is sympathetic and aware of the situation, and sends Mina back to her family for a week so that the prime minister won't be able to hunt her down. Back at school, Mina realizes that she can't remain silent about the storms on the other side of the mountain, and she starts an awareness campaign. This results in the school being locked down and the festival being moved up, which could prove deadly to her friends on the other side. The students take their dragons across the mountains and rescue people, and also take them straight to the festival, storm-buffered and weary, to explain their plight to the public. This gains popular attention, and the prime minister is forced to shut down the festival and finally address the concerns about the storm dragons altering the weather.
Strengths: This has a lot of action and adventure, a flying pet dragon,  a magical school, and evil adults who must be thwarted. Add to that an appealing main character who remains quiet but still manages to be powerful, sparkly flying dragons, and a tween saving the day... if it had a few explosions, it would be perfect. But at least there are a couple of fires. Seriously, this is a great dragon novel.
Weaknesses: I was never entirely sure how the dragons changed the weather (although there was an explanation), and why this made the weather on the other side of the mountains worse. Not essential to the story, but I was curious.
What I really think: I don't buy a lot of medeivalish fantasy because there is just so much of it, but books like this, that have all the elements middle grade readers crave and are fast paced and exciting, definitely have a place in my collection, and readers who are waiting for the next Tui Sutherland Wings of Fire book may be placated by this!

Ms. Yingling

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