Teenage Warrior Club

How can I put  this delicately? The book I am going to tell you about is fantasy fiction with some serious flaws. And yet, at the end I will recommend it to you to read. It's main weakness is its story-line. It has holes like Swiss cheese.

by +Lucas Dié on Books

Bobbie Shafer's Mark of the Dragonfly was published by Malachite Quills and is also available on Kindle. It tells the story of a young boy destined for greatness. The teenage boy is recruited into a band of equally young warriors to save the world. All of them have been marked at birth by the dragonfly mark.

The setting for the story is a world much like ours but there are several parallel worlds to jump around in. I have to be vague because I am not entirely sure from what the book has to offer if I got it right. Descriptions are at best sketchy.

The story is lacks fixation in a recognizable time frame. That hampers readers when starting out with the book. It's also irritating; haste 200 years ago and today define different time frames. When the writer is trying to convey the feeling of haste and a character holds a monologue over two pages before doing anything, then I classify that as a fail. And that is only for starters, both as a start to the book and to the niggling things that annoyed me. 

New characters are introduced and disappear with frightening speed. None of them gets clear characterization, and that failing includes most of the main players. Everything, people, setting, and fantasy history is pushed on the reader too fast. It prevents readers from bonding with any of the characters including the hero of the tale. Conversations are short and don't always make sense as if background had been lost earlier. It is like trying to read short hand in a foreign language upside down.

It had to plow through three quarters of the book, painfully at times, to come to the place where Bobbie Shafer allowed herself to show a true gift for writing. Comparing that part of the book with the earlier parts made me suspicious. The book left me with a feeling of editing gone wrong. The story reads as if whole chapters had ruthlessly been purged. 

The book is full of interesting ideas. Playing on those, the writer could have spun the story over several books without boring readers. It feels like having been cut down to size for a single book rather brutally.

The final show-down at the end of the book came about 1,000 pages too early. It left me with so many questions I could fill more pages than the published book. One of them was puzzling me all the way through. Characters from all over the world, like China or Brazil, speak perfect standard English; people from Scotland and Ireland have a brogue. Why?

Despite all that, it is worth reading the book for two reasons. One is professional curiosity. Observe what can happen to a story if you apply the butcher's knife instead of the scalpel when editing. The other is pleasure. It is still is a book that will while away a rainy afternoon amusingly. While I got annoyed at times, the book was able to take me away into a wonderful realm of adventure and make-believe.

Further reading

The Thief Who Learned Magic
Teenage Sorcerer Apprentice
Jim Button 50 Years Later