Raja and the Lion of Drazuk
by Avah Broc
Friesen Press

"Vandal reached for his sword, but before he could draw it, there was an encirclement of swords pointing at his body."

The witch Queen Hagatha kidnaps Princess Chloe and Princess Hanna. Hagatha then sells the girls to Vandal, head of the Kingdom of Wsyrut. Meeshan, a young counselor, and Harlyn, the niece of Hagatha who has turned away from the queen's wicked ways, are looking for a way to rescue the girls. They begin their quest at a wizard's home, hoping that he can make them a magical glass globe to aid them. Once accomplished, they decide they need more companions to complete the rescue, so they seek out Princess Raja and her friends. The group puts their plan in motion, and they fail miserably. In fact, the two kidnapped princesses say they don't want to leave the side of Vandal. Dejected, the adventurers must regroup and decide if there is anything else they can do.

Broc's story is a low-magic, medieval rescue mission. Witches and spells are present in the narrative, but they are mostly talked about rather than emphasized. However, readers do see potions that have a wide variety of effects on characters. Broc's story is easy to read and not hampered by grammatical issues. The book is written at a middle-grade level but is unique in that it does not rely on a great deal of action and tension to carry the storyline forward, as is typical of many books written for the age group. Instead, the book employs a tremendous amount of description to immerse readers into the setting. The book will likely appeal to young readers who revel in how an author builds a world they can vicariously visit. For those readers, there is plenty of detail to visualize.

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