Voices of Dragons
by Carrie Vaughn
Review by Gayle Surrette
HarperTeen Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780061798948
Date: 01 March 2010 List Price $16.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Every now and then you get a book and you look it over and think, "another in a long line of young girls finds a dragon to befriend". Indeed, you may think that when you skim the book's blurb, but Voices of Dragons by Carrie Vaughn is really very different. This is not the usual urban fantasy -- it's something quite different.
Kay Wyatt is a normal teenager, or as normal as any teen could be when her father is the local sheriff. As if that wasn't bad enough, her mother works for the Federal Bureau of Border Enforcement (FBBE). Silver River, Kay's home town is right on the border with Dragon. It's the Silver River Treaty that gave dragons the land to the north when they showed up after WWII and proved they could be a threat to mankind.
Kay's world is our world -- only different. There's cell phones, TVs, MP3s, jets, cars, microwave dinners, all the conveniences of our world. The difference, dragons own a big part of the northern hemisphere and humans aren't allowed to trespass any more than dragons are allowed to cross into human territory. Most people though have only see dragons in books or on the old newsreels when the treaty was signed. But the random dragon drills keep the fear alive.
Teen years are difficult and Kay works out her stress by free climbing or hiking. Her whole life changes when she falls into a stream and nearly drowns before being rescued by an adolescent dragon, Artegal, who's been hoping for a chance to meet a human so he could practice his English. Together, they forge a friendship that will have ramifications for both their worlds.
The beauty of this story is that while the circumstances and setting may be fantastical, the characters and situations they find themselves in are very, very real. You can definitely feel the stress on Kay as her friendship with Artegal grows. Together they are learning about each other's cultures, languages, and customs. Along the way they discover the long silence between humans and dragons may be a great danger to both sides.
The political situation as the plot unfolds could be taken from any current newspaper headline by substituting terrorists for dragons. One of the things SF and fantasy do best is to give you a chance to look at real world problems in a setting that is far enough removed from reality so that you can, perhaps, get a glimmer that there just might be another way to interpret events.
On the other hand, what they really do best is keep us entertained, engaged in reading and, when they story is really good, get us to think. Voices of Dragons is a good story that will give you a lot to think about.