A Darkness of Dragons
Author: S A Patrick
Details: 416 pages, £6.99, paperback
A Darkness of Dragons is a captivating introduction to the new Songs of Magic series. If future books in the series are as compelling as the first, this could turn out to be a fantastically popular new series. This is a tale of three unlikely heroes, who take on the most infamous villain pipers have ever known: The Pied Piper of Hamelyn. SA Patrick has adapted the traditional fairy tale to create a fearsome character and then filled the plot with action, suspense and magic from start to finish.
SA Patrick’s young heroes are well developed and likeable characters, so you will definitely find yourself invested in how they overcome their individual predicaments. The main protagonist is Patch Brightwater – a disgraced, but promising, young piper on the run after escaping his 500-year prison sentence for playing the illegal ‘dance’ spell. During his travels, he befriends Wren (a girl cursed by a sorcerer to live as a rat) and Barver (an injured young dracogriff – half dragon/half griffin).
A bond develops between these three and they set off on a quest to reverse Wren’s curse, fulfil Barver’s mothers dying wish and help Patch avoid incarceration. With a Man in the Iron Mask-style twist to the tale, they inadvertently become the only three able to face, and ultimately stop, the Hamelyn piper’s evil plan to create a piper army. With so many unanswered questions and the piper of Hamelyn still on the loose, my only disappointment is having to wait for the second novel to be published.
All of the upper key stage 2 pupils who have read this book with me have thoroughly enjoyed it. I would highly recommend it to readers Year 6 and above but it would also make a fantastic class reader with upper KS2.
Angela Kent is a school librarian at Four Lanes Community Junior School in Chineham, Hampshire
‘A twist to the tale’
A book for children 11+. The magicians, a rat, a dracogriff and pipers create an exciting adventure. The rat (Wren) was actually a girl who had been enchanted by a mean Sorcerer (Underath). The way the author used the same words at the end that were at the beginning created an effective cliffhanger. Enthralled, I read with anticipation to the end. I don’t like the fact I have to wait for the next book, as I wanted to read more. I enjoyed the fact that SA Patrick has taken characters from a traditional tale. There is a twist to the tale though, as we discovered the Hamelyn piper had a brother. While most of the story I couldn’t wait to read, I didn’t like the fact that it was quite scary in places. I would recommend this book to Year 6 and above.
Eliana, aged 10
‘An adventure filled with surprises’
I really enjoyed reading this book. With lots of suspense, you can’t put it down from the start. The book is an adventure filled with surprises, loyalty and three very accidental heroes. Patch (a disgraced piper), Wren (a girl cursed to live as a rat) and Barver (a dracogriff) know a secret that could mean the end of their world and it’s up to them to save everybody. It is captivating and it is the perfect book for people that love adventure books. It makes you feel like you are there with the characters. I particularly like the character Wren because she is a risk-taker and a loyal friend. I would rate this book 10/10 and I would recommend it particularly to children aged 11+.
Isla, aged 10
‘A rollercoaster of emotions’
The story follows on from the tale of the Pied Piper of Hamelyn and the capture and imprisonment of him in the dungeons of Tiviscan castle. The three main characters – Patch, Wren and Barver – are brought together by different events in the story and become great friends. The friends discover that there is evil on the loose and together use their different strengths to protect themselves and other people from the malice created. I liked how engaging the writer made the story by adding suspense and detail in their writing. The book made me feel a rollercoaster of emotions – sad, happy, scared and excited. These emotions helped me to predict what was going to happen further in the story. My favourite part of the story, which I felt was portrayed well by the author, was when Patch was locked in the dungeon at Tiviscan. I really got a sense of the fear he felt and the challenges he had to deal with. I would recommend this book to children aged 10-15 years as the magical aspects of the story would prove more understandable to them.
Lucy, aged 10
‘A complex storyline’
This book was very enjoyable and I would happily read it again and again. I liked the fact that the author used a familiar story as the basis for a new one. The complex storyline is easy to follow: it tells of a young boy called Patch who played a forbidden song 102 times, so was imprisoned for 510 years. Wren, a girl cursed to live as a rat, meets Patch on his way to prison. The prison is attacked and the Hamelyn Piper speaks his last words: Aye…I am…I am not the Hamelyn Piper.” After escaping prison, Patch and Wren meet Barver (a dracogriff) and together they attempt to stop the real piper of Hamelyn. I can’t wait for the whole series to be published. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone 10 years and older.
Samuel, aged 10
‘Sometimes creepy, sometimes magic’
Sometimes creepy, sometimes magic and with reference to the folk tale of the Pied Piper of Hamelyn, this was an enjoyable story. This is a great book for age 10+, especially those who enjoy lots and lots of mystery. It has a wide variety of characters with wizards, sorcerers, dragons, a dracogriff (a mix of dragon and griffin), pipers and rats. I liked the suspense in this book and the fact you have to refer back to what you have previously read – like when the iron mask is found and they realise whose it is. Can Patch Brightwater, Barver Knopferkerkle and Wren Cobble stop the real piper of Hamelyn? Will they be victorious, or will they need to hop in the second book to finish it once and for all?
Aiden, aged 10