Jan Siegel,
The Dragon Charmer
(Del Rey, 2002)

In this sequel to Prospero's Children, Fern Capel is 12 years older and about to get married to a man nearly 20 years her senior. She has banished all that is supernatural from her consciousness, once again keeping her life orderly and organized. She should know better.

Fern's fiance insists that they be married at Yarrowdale, the house that was the locus for Fern's previous Atlantean adventures. She is not happy about this, but she returns with her best friend Gaynor and sets about the wedding preparations with typical determination. But strange things begin to happen: a gray-skinned professor reaches from a television screen towards Gaynor, a huge owl beats at the windows, mirrors reveal frightening visions. Everything points to the return of the powerful Asmodel.

When Fern carelessly uses Asmodel's name on the night before her wedding, she opens the way for him to make a power grab. As a result, Fern's spirit exits her body, leaving it comatose. Gaynor and Fern's brother Will look for a way to restore her, and walk straight into a trap.

Fern's spirit begins an involuntary apprenticeship with two witches, Morgus and Sisselore, under the roots of a tree that bears the heads of the dead as its strange fruit. Morgus seeks one of these in particular, the head of a dragon charmer, in order to learn to control the last dragon in the world.

Jan Siegel writes with a bold hand, claiming mythology and legend and making it her own. Her characters are credible and well-realized. The plot is well-infused with the consequences of realistic foibles as well as with humor, and it is well-paced, increasing in tension and suspense until the dramatic conclusion. There is less of the exotic in The Dragon Charmer as the Atlantean elements are less dominant. While the book stands alone well from Prospero's Children, reading the first book enhances the second.

Seigel has made a permanent mark on the landscape of modern fantasy, and I look forward to more from this very talented writer.

[ by Donna Scanlon ]
Rambles: 19 April 2002

Buy it from Amazon.com.