Draco's Child

CM, Volume XVI Number 38 June 4, 2010
Something creaked above her. There couldn't be any animals tracking her, she reminded herself; there weren't any here, unless you counted insects and worms. And the plants, no matter how malevolent, couldn't travel. As long as she kept moving, she should be safe. She stumbled ahead, tripped over a root, dodged a cluster of grasping leaves, and bumped her head under a low branch. This was enough.
Varia lunged forward. If she could only get hold of Sidran's shoulders and turn him around, make him look straight into her eyes, he might wake up from his trance. True, they didn't like each other much, but they had grown up together on the ship, and now that the other lander was missing they were the only two people of their age in the settlement. He couldn't just leave her alone here.
Something grabbed her hair.

A group of humans have fled a polluted Earth in search of a new home and landed on Kettle, a planet a very long way from home. Half of their group is missing, their crops are failing, and the local flora is hostile. The heroine of this tale is Varia, a young girl, who discovers a dragon's egg and is faced with the choice of what to do with it. This choice is made more difficulty by the arrival of the star-child, an alien life force who offers to assist the colonists, but who also opposes Varia’s raising a dragon. What follows is the growing strangeness of those who follow the star-child, and Varia's difficulties in keeping a rapidly-growing dragon hidden from both her fellow colonists and the star alien. Added to this mix are the answers to a number of questions: what will the dragon become as it grows, how will it be greeted by her family, and does the full-grown dragon have its own motives? To complicate matters further, Varia begins to change too.
The story describes a hostile, un-earthly planet and a young woman faced with several increasingly difficult choices. It is a coming-of-age tale that takes a look at the results of her choices.

A well-written, sometimes confusing story that requires the reader to pay attention, Draco’s Child should appeal to lovers of speculative fiction. Draco's Child takes a look at how our choices can affect more than just ourselves, but everything around us. — Ronald Hore

Resource Links, Volume 15, Number 5, June 2010
Draco’s Child is the story of Varia. Varia and her family live on the Kettle, a distant planet. They and others have fled there from a polluted, dying Earth. Half of their group is missing and the planet is not kind — crops are failing, people are dying from mysterious diseases and there is no help in sight. The community has divided the tasks into roles for each person and each is struggling to convert their knowledge from Earth wit their supplies on The Kettle. They have also taken in Specto, a star-child and powerful entity who offers them survival – but at a cost. There are frightening changes going on with the Star-Child’s followers and Varia is unsure of what to do to save her community. She then finds a dragon egg and decides, against advice, to hatch it. Her hope is that it will help save her community and help her find the lost lander with the rest of her community. Things are complicated further when she begins to change into something new, learning that sometimes, what you become depends on what you believe.

Draco’s Child is very rooted in science fiction and fantasy — the book is dependent on a reader who can believe in the alternate world in which the characters are living. Plumb has mixed Star Children with Dragons and has done so successfully. While fantastical, the book is believable — the reader may feel that they understand why the settlers left earth and understand their troubles in learning to live in their new world. Varia and her dragon do get a little confusing sometimes and some of the situations in which she finds herself are disturbing — rape and kind-of-cannibalism come to mind. Yet the message that love can win over all and connections to family and to friends are the most important comes through and will teach the readers about loving and responsibility.

This book will appeal to science fiction and fantasy fans. Due to mature situations it is best for grades nine to twelve. — Alison Edwards

Thematic Links: Family; Fantasy; Dragons; Astronomy
Rating: G (Good, even great at times, generally useful!)

What If? Magazine, Fall 2010

Sharon Plumb's Draco’s Child is a powerful debut novel. Varia, a young girl, lives with a small community on a faraway planet after leaving the polluted Earth. However, her new world is far from safe: dangerous beings lurk in the forests and half of the community is missing. Furthermore, the group's knowledge and supplies from Earth are almost useless in this strange and ever-changing environment. As a result, the villagers decide to accept the help of the star-child, a powerful entity who assists them, yet also affects them with strange physical transformations. Frightened, Varia goes searching for an alternate path, and she too begins to undergo a disturbing change.

Draco’s Child successfully mixes the genre traditions of fantasy and science fiction to create a fresh coming-of-age tale. The author provides scientific details to make the plot and setting plausible then adds creative, mystical elements such as exotic plants and dragon eggs. The descriptions of settings are very vivid and easy to imagine, transporting readers into an intriguing but dangerous universe, while the diction and poetic language gives the story the quality of high fantasy and myth. Sharon Plumb also explores many strong themes, whether the quest for self-identity or the challenge of adapting to a new environment, whether an individual's responsibility to her community or the existence of love.

I would highly recommend Draco’s Child, a thought-provoking novel that will leave a lasting impression in the mind of readers. — Lin Wang