Challenge of the Dragon
by Joan and David Merkin
Trafford Publishing

"'Then,' Valerian said, 'together we shall finish the job our parents started and destroy this cursed beast to save our world.'"

When a mysterious black cloud covers the beautiful kingdom of Alestria, bringing suffering and disease, King Vladimir calls upon his children, Prince Valerian and Princess Alisia, to save the kingdom. Armed with the knowledge of magic and sorcery, Valerian and Alisia decide to travel to the kingdom of Darkoria to find the cause of the cloud and face Terresca, the powerful dragon who has cursed their kingdom. Accompanied by their horses and Shirekan the tiger, the twins soon find themselves treading a dangerous path full of challenges that will ultimately lead to their final battle with an enemy who will stop at nothing to get his revenge.

The Merkins deliver a wonderful fantasy adventure based on the triumph of good over evil. Using the experiences of Valerian and Alisia throughout their journey and where they fight together, the authors emphasize that unity in the face of danger guarantees victory. While the twins’ courage and determination make them admirable characters, it is their use of magic that will capture the attention of young readers. Like in the Harry Potter movies or in Merlin, magic has a strong presence in the story: Valerian can cast an invisibility spell, Alisia can hurl lightning bolts and fireballs, and the twins can shoot beams of light from their hands. Moreover, the theme of light and darkness is beautifully portrayed when the brightness of Alestria is contrasted with the black ominousness of Darkoria. This is further highlighted when the twins finally defeat Terresca, the ruler of Darkoria, and can see the sunrise over the dark kingdom. Colorful illustrations by Phil Gerard Godin bring out the charm of this enchanting world of wizards and sorceresses, while fast-paced action and a well-knit plot make this tale highly entertaining for readers. Brimming with energy and power, this is an enticing story of heroism.

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