May 29th, 2014


Handbook for Dragon Slayers brief review, and a video about Detcon1 Award nominees

Cover of Handbook for Dragon SlayersI am reading the nominees that interest me for the Detcon1 Award for Young Adult and Middle Grade Speculative Fiction, and I hope everyone else attending Detcon1 is too. The voting deadline is June 22nd.

I just read Handbook for Dragon Slayers, by Merrie Haskell, shown to the right. This cover was the least interesting of the books nominated for the middle grade portion of the award, I thought, and now that I've read the book, I still wish it had a better cover. In particular, I wish the cover had included all the principal characters, of which there are four - in addition to the bookish protagonist and her joyous silver mare, there would have been an adventurous handmaiden (with or without her copper horse), and a young man. And for once a cover might have had three female and one male primary characters on it, which almost never happens. It's as if cover designers think readers will be drawn to a male figure, or a female figure, or a female figure and one or more guys, but not a few females and one male.

You see that in movies and movie posters, too.

Anyway, this was a highly enjoyable book that I gobbled up between last night and now, recklessly tossing aside my other Detcon1 duties for the nonce. It wasn't really anything like what I expected from the title and descriptions -- it was much better. There were some things about it I didn't like, but those mostly fell in the category of Simplification of feelings and thoughts, which may be necessary in writing for this age level.

I had read descriptions of the book because in April I put together a short blurb about each Award nominee and then recited them in short bursts to put together a video about the nominees. It's not a terribly brilliant video or anything, but it does what it sent out to do, and I really appreciate the enthusiasm with which Sarah Jean Meyer embarked on the project with me. There was a lot of giggling as we experimented with different takes and took dramatic pauses between noises from both outside and inside the bookstore where the segments were filmed. You can check it out on YouTube, or, hey, I bet I can embed it here.