The Dreamkeeper Saga weaves Christian themes, Arthurian legend, and reliable fantasy tropes into a promising series for middle-graders.
The Dragon and the Stone (Dreamkeeper Saga #1) by Kathryn Butler. Crossway, 301 pages
Reading Level: Middle Grades, ages 10-12
Recommended for: ages 8-14
What if dreams came true?
Lily McKinley’s life has taken a turn for the worse, with her father missing and presumed dead, her grandmother losing memories, and her mother forced to work night shift at the hospital. It’s all too much, but when a dragon (granted, a small dragon) appears in their kitchen, slurping up chili on the stove, it’s beyond comprehension. Fortunately, the dragon (who introduces himself as Cedric) is articulate and can explain—to a point. Lily is wanted in the Realm to help defeat a great threat. But what’s the realm, what’s the threat, and what power does a sixth-grader have to defeat it? Not just any sixth-grader, though: Lily is a steward of the Realm, owing to the pendant left to her by her father. It’s a soothstone, with the power to turn daydreams, or imaginings, into reality.
Hope and redemption
The notion of another world existing alongside our own, and the ability to step between them, is a staple of good fantasy. And, not by accident, of Christian faith. This series opener from Christian publisher Crossway draws further inspiration from the King Arthur legend: Lancelot and Merlin make an appearance, and as the series goes on we can hopefully expect more Arthurian characters to show up. As well as reified figments of Lily’s imagination, both comical and terrifying.
But themes of hope and redemption are the deeper sources. A classic quest forms the heart of the story, serious but not solemn, and young readers will enjoy the flashes of humor. I appreciated the character development, especially of Lily’s schoolyard nemesis Adam, who is “accidentally” hauled into the realm with her and will, if the vol. 2 preview is any indication, become a fellow traveler in further installments. It’s a promising start to a series, and readers won’t have to wait long for a sequel: The Prince and the Blight will be available in August.
Overall Rating: 4.5 (out of 5)
Worldview/moral value: 5Artistic/literary value: 4
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