Published: 1 July 2014
Publisher: Dreaming Empire
Genre: Junior Fiction/Fantasy
★ ★ ★ – 3 Stars
Note: I was provided a copy for review
Thirteen year old Jack is spending the summer at his Aunt’s house in the country. Unfortunately, it’s done nothing but rain and he’s stuck in her old mansion without cable or internet. Bored and alone, he sets out to explore the house. When he reaches the attic, he finds an intricate and unusual mural painted on the walls. Life for Jack gets turned upside down when he stumbles and is transported through a portal into a magical world.
For Jasyra, the daughter of the High King, life couldn’t be worse. Her father has been turned to glass, her kingdom has been taken over by the Demon Emperor, and she and her friend, Evooku, have been exiled. The only way to save the land is to reassemble the Dragon Fyre Blade, but the Demon Emperor has hidden all six pieces and each is guarded by great mythical beasts. There is only one person who can help restore peace, but it has been said that he is not of their land.
When Jack awakens in the Great Forest of Karandur, he encounters Jasyra and Evooku. He discovers the only way home is to band together to fight the evil Lycanthor, a giant werewolf that guards a piece of the Dragon Fyre Blade. But first they have to make it through an enchanted land full of danger.
The Queen of Light appears to Jack and delivers a gift, as well as a revelation. He, Jasyra and Evooku form an unlikely friendship along the way and lasting bonds are made when they realize they are Karandur’s only hope. Will the trio be able to defeat Lycanthor and save the kingdom from an eternity of despair?
Lycanthor the Werewolf is the first book in the Dragon Fyre Blade series and tells the story of Jack, a thirteen year old who has found himself in the magical realm of Karandur and must help save the kingdom from the Demon Emperor who has taken control of the land. The story that Storm has presented is interesting and has some great action throughout the story. It has the potential to be a great series but while the story itself was engaging there were some things missing and I felt it lacked the well rounded introduction not just a new land, but to the characters as well.
One of the things I noticed was that for some reason I kept forgetting Jack was supposed to be thirteen, I kept imagining him as younger. I don’t know why, perhaps it was the way he spoke, or how he thought; it didn’t have the voice of a thirteen year old. But I think this was due to the fact that there wasn’t a lot of depth to Jack’s character, or to the others really. There is a lot about the other characters we don’t know, and while Storm provides a little character detail for Jack and Jasyra, we know nothing about Evooku aside from a physical description. Being the first of six books there is a chance that more information will be revealed about these characters, but being a first introduction it seems odd that a little more wasn’t explained to Jack or to the reader, especially about Evooku who is a key character. Understandably, plot wise Jack does arrive in the middle of a quest as it were, but I felt he didn’t ask enough questions. And even though he has a revelation and understands more when he meets the Queen of Light, the readers are still left in the dark about certain things.
Aside from that the story is good, I actually liked how Jack came into the middle of Jasyra’s quest as they were hunting for the blade as it means there is action almost immediately, it follows on well from the prologue. The narrative focuses on a small period of time but makes good use of it, especially with the events that occur. Jack gets thrown into the world at a crucial moment and there is no time initially to stop and take it in and as a result we get to see him think on his feet quite well. Jasyra is also a good character; she is strong and determined and is the person who provides us with a little more information about their mission. Her attitude to Jack is one that starts off harsh but softens as the story goes on. I liked her because she has a clear goal in mind, and while Jack seems to have arrived and interrupted, she is not going to let him ruin her plans and she puts him to work almost instantly to help. Jack’s role in this quest is interesting. How he helps initially is based on the orders he gets and doesn’t come across as a prophesised saviour per se, but you can see hints of it develop as the story goes on, even if it is only slightly, and he soon comes into his own as they hunt down Lycanthor.
With his aunt’s mural being the link between worlds it is clear that Jack is the destined hero the kingdom is after, but this element is not really addressed once Jack is in Karandur. Before he lands in the world there is a great and very detailed description of the mural that creates a great image in your mind, but I would have liked a little bit more focus on the house and what the connection was (if any) between it and Karandur. That may have been a personal issue though and you do get caught up in the story quite quickly to really get to think about it. Hopefully this is something that is addressed in later books though because it could be an interesting addition.
Overall the narrative itself is interesting, and I thought the writing style was suitable for the intended audience and the characters were intriguing. And aside from feeling a little let down by the lack of information in parts and some unanswered questions the story was still engaging and enjoyable to read. There is definitely the start of a good series here, one that Storm will hopefully continue to expand and develop on further as we follow these characters in finishing off their quest to save the kingdom.