Donita K. Paul's Dragon stories are some of my favorites. I am enthralled with her ability to make the fantasy world of dragons and their keepers come alive to those of us who are no longer young enough to believe in such things. The Dragons of Chiril is no exception to this.
The Dragons of Chiril, previously released as The Vanishing Sculptor, is the story of a young girl, Tipper, who is the daughter of a prominent sculptor and an "eccentric" mother. Her father has disappeared from her life inexplicably several years prior to the opening of the book and Tipper is forced to grow up and take care of not only herself but her mother, who seems to have detached from reality and believes that her husband (Tipper's father) is merely shut up in his studio. Tipper knows that her father would be upset with her for selling his work, but she slowly begins selling them off in order to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table. With the help of a wonderful cast of characters, including an over-sized talking parrot named Beccaroon who is seemingly guardian of young Tipper, this is a story of self-discovery and adventure full of interesting settings and even more interesting beings.
When an aspiring artisan named Bealomondore arrives on her doorstep demanding to meet Tipper's father, the famous sculptor Verrin Schope and hoping for an apprenticeship with him, things start to unravel in Tipper's "normal" world. She soon discovers that her mother is indeed partially correct in the belief Verrin Schope is shut up in his studio when he appears to Tipper in what she assumes is a dream. Soon, however, her father begins to appear in more corporeal form and Tipper finds that her world is forever changed. On a journey to reunite three of the sculptures of her father's that she had previously sold, Tipper is joined by characters from several different walks of life and in fact several different planes of existence. In a world full of dragons and their keepers, magicians and giants, Tipper must find her way not only to rescue the sculptures and save the world but more importantly to find herself.
One of the things I like best about Donita K. Paul's dragon stories is her inclusion of the "character" of Wulder, a reference to God and His workings in not only this fantasy world but also our own world as well. Where most science fiction/fantasy genre books lead the reader to non-religious thoughts and themes, Ms. Paul's books bring them full circle, back to the Creator. While not overly religious in tone, this adds a wonderful undercurrent to her work in the same vein as CS Lewis's Narnia books. Not as complex in theme as Lewis, her books are a delightful and relatively quick read for young adults-adults and perhaps a slightly more challenging read to younger audiences.
The Dragons of Chiril is a book you can feel comfortable letting children and young adults read knowing that the themes, settings and language are wholesome overall and do not delve into the seedier side of the sci-fi/fantasy genre as many do. This book is a terrific stand-alone book but can also serve as a great introduction to Ms. Paul's other dragon stories such as DragonSpell
Disclosure: I received a free copy of this ebook from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.