The Dragon Thief
The Dragon Thief
What a creep!” Kenny says, peering into his pocket to check on Jef. “You can’t make a deal with him.”
“I may not have a choice,” I say.
Vik stares at the graffiti-covered building across the street. “Do we really need to make a deal with Blue? I mean, he just told us where the gate is. Think you can open it on your own Jax?”
We cross the street and stand in front of the spice factory. It’s hard to imagine a gate to the realm of magic inside this run-down building.
“I don’t even know how we can get inside,” I confess.
“That driveway must be for deliveries,” Kenny says. “Let’s go in that way.”
Vik shakes his head. “We can’t just walk in there. The people who work in the factory will want to know what we’re up to.”
“There’s probably a back entrance. Maybe we could sneak in that way,” I suggest.
We walk down the block to the empty lot at the corner. Vik examines the heavy chain and padlock wrapped around the fence gates. If Trub were here, he could easily pick that lock. But we’re on our own. When Kenny pulls against the fence, the gates pull apart just enough for me and Vik to squeeze through. What we’ll do once we’re inside the lot, I don’t know. But we have to take it one step at a time.
Kenny peeks inside his pocket and says, “I hope you’re feeling stronger Jef, because we could really use your help.”
Jef’s red head pokes out of the pocket and nods up at Kenny. Then the fairy rises into the air and leads us down the block. Jef points at the spot high on the factory wall where the previous company’s name was erased.
Kenny frowns. “There it is again!” he says with a mixture of excitement and exasperation.
Vik and I follow his gaze. “What are you talking about Kenny?”
“Don’t you see it?” Kenny asks. “All that gold writing…”
Vik wipes his eyes, squints at the wall, and then looks at me. “Do you see anything?” he whispers.
I shake my head. “Read it out to us Kenny.”
It’s only after I’ve made my request that I remember Kenny’s dyslexic. His cheeks turn pink, and he jams his hands into the pocket of his vest. Jef perches on his shoulder and nods encouragingly. Kenny shifts from one foot to the other before clearing his throat. In a shaky voice he reads, “Esmeralda’s Excellent Emporium: Exotic Spices, Magical Potions, and Mythical Creatures of All Kinds.”
As soon as the last word leaves Kenny’s lips, I feel something shift. The sun should set soon, but the air grows a bit warmer and the street suddenly becomes eerily quiet. The happy shrieks of playing kids and the steady thud of basketballs fade into silence. I look back across the street and find a field of tall bright pink grass swaying where the playground ought to be. The spice factory’s façade has been scrubbed clean, and all the windows glisten with clear glass panes – no bars and no cages.
“Uh… guys?” I stammer. “I don’t think we’re in Brooklyn anymore.”
Kavita has a problem. She stole a dragon from her brother’s friend, Jaxon, and it won’t stop growing. Mo, the dragon, keeps finding things to eat and gets bigger every time it does. Kavita knows she can’t keep the dragon hidden from her family forever, especially since her brother Vikram is working with Jax to get the dragon back to the magical realm. When Kavita tries to get a birdcage for Mo from her aging aunty’s room, Aunty discovers Mo and decides to help Kavita return the dragon to its rightful place. They sneak out of the house to meet Aunty’s friend, Bejan, who tells them they need to find a tower that can go between the realms, but, when they go looking for the tower, they run into a mysterious man covered in tattoos who offers to take them to the tower.
Meanwhile, Jaxon is alone in his quest to find the stolen dragon and return it to Sis. After they returned to Brooklyn, Ma fell into a comatose state. Jax made a promise to Sis that he would find and return the last dragon, and so he teams up with his best friend Vik to track down Kavita and the dragon. However, after Kavita and Aunty run away, Jax and Vik are at a loss for how to find them or the dragon. The only clue they have is the small mint tin Sis gave Jax before he left, but it won’t open. Jax and Vik accidentally run into Kenny, a scary classmate of theirs, who manages to pry open the tin revealing a fairy! Kenny learns all about magic and the lost dragon, and he turns out not to be scary at all. Kenny, Jax, and Vik ask the fairy named Jef to help them talk to L. Roy, the man who brought the dragons to Brooklyn in the first place. L. Roy tells Jax that he should find a man named Blue, but to be careful. Blue worked as a gatekeeper in Brooklyn but was demoted by Sis. Jaxon and his friends meet Blue, the same man that Kavita and Aunty met earlier, but Blue has his own motives, and they don’t line up with what Sis wants. Jax has to use all his wits and help from his friends to reunite the dragons and stop Blue from going ahead with his plans before it’s too late.
Zetta Elliott has created a fun and fast paced sequel in The Dragon Thief. Following the same themes of African magic, readers are also exposed to themes of everything not being as it seems. With the character of Aunty, a woman who is frail and bedridden at the beginning of the novel, readers learn of the Siddi, African people who resided in India, and that Aunty is far stronger and more magical than her family had ever considered. There is also Kenny, a boy who Jax and Vik are afraid of at first, but then learn that he is actually friendly and gentle, and he turns out to be an asset in getting the dragon Mo back to the magical realm with Sis. Themes and characters such as this make readers think twice about their first judgement of people, and cause them to consider the power that characters and people such as Aunty and Kenny might hold.
The Dragon Thief is a wonderful sequel that holds up well to its predecessor, Dragons in a Bag. Readers will get more of their favourite characters from the first novel as well as find new ones to fall in love with. Leaving room for a third installment, this novel is a must read for lovers of Dragons in a Bag.
Deanna Feuer, an English Literature graduate from the University of the Fraser Valley, lives in Langley British Columbia and is currently studying Library Sciences.