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Here be Dragons: The Snowdonia Chronicles: Book One

Here be Dragons: The Snowdonia Chronicles: Book One

Sarah Mussi
Vertebrate Publishing
ISBN: 9781910240342

If you like dragons, not the soft cute ones, but the fire breathing, blood thirsty variety, then this is a read for you! The author Sarah Mussi has cleverly twisted Welsh folklore, Snowdonia legends and the magic of Merlin into her magical story and given it a very contemporary twist...

Here be Dragons is the first book in The Snowdonia Chronicles and what a fantastic start it is. Ellie lives on the Snowdonia mountain with her mum. One evening she goes out on a rescue mission, (her mum is part of the mountain volunteer rescue ) and as they search their area, Ellie spots a boy through the mist and the snow, he's alone, he appears to be staring at her directly, but that's impossible as he's too far away? She looks away and he's gone?!

After the successful rescue, Ellie cannot get this boy from her mind so she takes it upon herself to track him down as she would never forgive herself if he was found frozen to death a few days later. This is where the story really kicks in...

The book has a map at the start, (always a good thing in my opinion) of a place that many young readers may be familiar with if they have taken a holiday there with their parents. Throughout the story, the Welsh language is spoken/written, however it doesn't matter if you can't read Welsh as there are footnotes at the bottom of the relevant pages with an English translation. Actually, the Welsh language has a mystical feel to it as it looks magical, like casting a spell! This is a clever trick used by the author, as it not only includes young readers that are welsh and use the language but adds to the mystery of the plot as it builds to the amazing, pacy, breath holding ending!

Here be dragons has 409 pages that are fast paced. The story has only a short time line, the few days between Christmas and New Year. It's a tale of 'girl meets boy', but of course there's a twist, it's to do with the famous red dragon on The Welsh Flag and trust me, after reading this story you will look at that dragon in a very different way!

I loved the sense of the mythology that the author has created that surrounds Snowdon and the isolation. You really feel the cold as Ellie at one point walks barefoot (not by choice) in the snow! I understand that the author may have been inspired by real Welsh documents ( The Mabinogion, dates back to AD 1275) which can easily be searched for on the internet. This makes the book feel even more realistic.

The story would be great for book clubs/reading groups as there are opportunities for further reading and investigations into other books, culture and legends. This a been a wonderful read and I'm lucky that I have book 2, 'Here Be Witches', now in my hands to carry on this magical adventure. What will happen next? I will have to open and immerse myself into its mystical pages to find out.

432 pages / Ages 12+ / Reviewed by Linda Brown


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