ARC Review: THE DRAGON IN THE BOOKSHOP by Ewa Jozefkowicz (Middle Grade Monday)

I received an eARC from the publishers through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. It has not affected my opinions.

Title in black on blurred image of a red dragon
Genre: Fantasy
Age Range: MG
Star Rating: 4 stars
Series: standalone

Blurb:

Book cover for THE DRAGON IN THE BOOKSHOP: title in yellon on blue with red dragon above and two kids below

An old Polish city fizzes with fear. The townsfolk are at the mercy of a dragon who lurks in the cave below the castle…

Konrad’s dad always used to say, ‘There is a character in a book somewhere that matches you almost entirely. It’s just a matter of finding them’. Konrad never expected the ‘finding’ to involve stepping right into a story, and he never expected his dad not to be there with him.

After his dad’s death, Konrad stops speaking. Not a word at home or school as the year rolls by. But that begins to change when he meets Maya on the beach he loved to explore with Dad. She doesn’t mind his silence. It gives her a chance to be heard, because at home no one seems to notice her. When the pair go on a last visit to Konrad’s family bookshop before it’s sold, they soon get lost in the pages of Konrad’s favourite book of folk tales. Whisked back in time to quest with a dragon, they must find themselves and their voices, as well as a happy end to the story in the book and in real life.

Blurb taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.


Review:

I’ve really enjoyed Ewa Jozefkowicz’s contemporary Middle Grade books so when it was announced that her next was going to be a fantasy I was, naturally, rather excited. It’s a retelling of the Wawel Dragon, a Polish myth, and two modern children are pulled into a storybook and have to find a way to make the story happen – but in a better way.

The fantasy section of the book is steeped in Polish mythology. There is the “main” myth of the hungry dragon, but there are also lots of other references to other stories and traditions that help build the world of Medieval Kraków. The weight of history and legends, told through offhand references, really does make a world feel real to me, because it means it exists beyond the narrow confines of a book.

A lot of research has clearly gone into the process of manuscript creation. The children find themselves roped into preserving stories by creating new books to replace damaged ones. The process is described so well, full of the little quirks (like pages vs strips for how they handled the paper) that help distinguish the scribe’s location.

The contemporary section has a fair bit to say about dinosaurs. There are fossils and a (fake, I think?) professor, as well as discussions about how we “recreate” dinosaurs from incomplete fossil records. Of course, though, dinosaurs and dragons aren’t too dissimilar…

The one thing I will say is that it does take a while (relative to book size) for the book to go from contemporary to fantasy – I did check I’d opened the right file at one point! There’s a lot of contemporary set up to ensure you know what’s going on in Konrad’s personal life, the challenges he’s facing. It’s not until that’s all been laid and Maya’s been introduced that they get sucked into the book.


Read my reviews of other books by Ewa Jozefkowicz:

Standalones:

2 thoughts on “ARC Review: THE DRAGON IN THE BOOKSHOP by Ewa Jozefkowicz (Middle Grade Monday)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s