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I was quickly captivated by the world and the characters of Chiril. This was my first experience with the writings of Donita K. Paul. I’ve been curious about her writing for a while since I first noticed her Dragon Keepers books at the store. I wasn’t sure at the time that I wanted to get invested in a new series by an author I’ve never read. So I jumped at the chance to read and review The Dragons of Chiril, which is a prequel to her Dragon Keepers series and requires no prior knowledge of her previous novels. It was a thoroughly entertaining & rewarding read. I am now convinced to dive a little deeper into Paul’s world and try out her other books.

In The Dragons of Chiril, the main character is Tipper, a young woman who is forced to take over the responsibilities as head of her family because of her father’s mysterious disappearance and her mother’s subsequent disconnect from reality. To make ends meet, she sells many valued family possessions, including some artwork made by her father, a well-known artist. Then her father returns, just as mysteriously as he disappeared, with some strangers from far away, looking for three particular sculptures. Tipper had unfortunately already sold them and didn’t know their whereabouts. She quickly learns that her father’s life & even the existence of the whole world are imminently dependent on finding & reuniting these special sculptures. So they assemble a rag-tag group of trekkers and set out to track down and reacquire the sculptures before it’s too late.

The best things about The Dragons of Chiril, in my opinion, are the characters. They are unusual, endearing, & even amusing. And the dragons, which are characters too, are downright charming. The story, though not action packed, is quite compelling and enjoyable. It seems to unfold naturally. It was very enjoyable. In fact, it made me smile, sometimes even when I wasn’t reading it.

There are a few downsides, however. I was occasionally confused by some details, mostly pertaining to the setting and people in general. While it is not necessary to have read Donita K. Paul’s other books, I think there are certain details that would have been less confusing if I’d had some prior knowledge. When I came to the end of the book, I discovered a glossary that somewhat explained some of the things I had been wondering about. I wish I had known about it when I started, though.

The other, and more important quibble I had with the book was the ending, not the way the story ended, but the way the ending was written. It seemed rushed and confused, perhaps a bit chaotic at times, and then was suddenly tied up at the end. I would have liked it better if the climax had been drawn out a bit more. This was not enough to make me disappointed overall with the book. The book was truly great up until that point, and I can’t help but wonder if my impression has anything to do with my frame of mind at the time of reading the ending. I can still say that The Dragons of Chiril was well worth my time, and I would recommend it to others.

In exchange for sharing my thoughts about it, I received a free copy of this book from Waterbrook/Multnomah through their Blogging for Books program. Please rate my review on their site.

You can buy the book here.  Check out the first chapter.

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Can a person overcome his upbringing, or is he doomed to carry on with what he has known? As an orphan raised by Floyd, a traveling huckster, Grady has only known deception. From the time he was a very young boy, he was trained to put on a show to convince gullible villagers that he was a savage, swamp-dwelling, alligator rasslin’ creature known by legend as a Feechie. Grady is even convinced at one point that he actually is a Feechie. What else could explain his extraordinary ugliness? They have a successful show for years until people stop believing in Feechies. So they are forced to try some other unscrupulous schemes to make a living.

The Charlatan’s Boy by Jonathan Rogers is written in a charming Southern narrative style, coloquial grammar and all. The story follows Grady, now a teenager, through a time of searching, as he wonders about his origin and what he should choose to do with his future. Will he continue to blindly follow Floyd and his schemes without any love or appreciation in return? Floyd is, after all, the only family, or even friend, that Grady has known in his life. Or will he strike out on his own and become an ordinary and honest man? He feels way too repulsive to really fit in anywhere. Grady’s very identity is bound up in the Feechie Trade that he grew up with. So he and Floyd decide that, one way or another, they must revive belief in Feechies, and their livelihood along with it.

When I started reading The Charlatan’s Boy, I was afraid I would have trouble overcoming my aversion to reading first person narrative style. It’s one of my personal quirks, and I try to stretch out of it a bit from time to time. In this case, though, Jonathan Rogers’ unusual writing voice made it more than tolerable, and it didn’t take long for me to get over it.

One thing that did cause a more substantial hang-up for me was that the story is very character based and it didn’t strike a very in-depth plot until the second half. I personally prefer an engaging plot that keeps me coming back, begging to know what happens next. Having a young child and little time to read, I’ve unfortunately become a little more impatient about reading than I previously was. The beginning of the book was a bit episodic, and while still very enjoyable, it wasn’t very suspenseful. During the first half of the book, I found myself forgetting about the book, leaving it sitting around for a few days at a time without reading. The second half, however, I devoured pretty quickly as the plot became more engrossing.

I have to say that the best thing about The Charlatan’s Boy is the ending. It was very satisfying and unexpected. At the end of the book it says there is another book about Grady coming out this fall. So, knowing that, the book makes more sense as an introduction to something bigger. The goal of this first book seems to be establishing the characters and the background for a greater story, making the slower plot more forgivable. So, despite the few stylistic conflicts I had with The Charlatan’s Boy, I can honestly say that I plan to read the next one, and perhaps some of Jonathan Rogers’ previous work.

I received a copy of the book from Waterbrook/Multnomah for this review through their Blogging for Books program. You can purchase The Charlatan’s Boy by Jonathan Rogers here.

Please take the time to rate my review on the Blogging for books site.

Please Rate My Review on Blogging For Books

Following is a sample chapter from the book.

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