Silver Batal and the Water Dragon Races
by K.D. Halbrook
Publication Date: June 4, 2019
Summary from Netgalley:
Set in a vivid, Arab-inspired world filled with friendly and fearsome water dragons, K.D. Halbrook’s Silver Batal and the Water Dragon Races is a middle-grade fantasy adventure, with illustrations by Ilse Gort, that’s perfect for fans of Tui T. Sutherland, Sayantani DasGupta, and Roshani Chokshi.
Silver’s dreams of becoming a legendary water dragon racer come true when she befriends a rare dragon that can swim and fly.
Thirteen-year-old Silver Batal calls the desert home, but her heart belongs to the waters. Although she’s expected to become a jeweler like her father, Silver harbors a secret and forbidden wish to race water dragons. Destiny comes calling when her friendship with a mysterious old woman leads her to Hiyyan, a baby dragon that can swim and fly.
Risking everything, Silver, Hiyyan, and her resourceful cousin Brajon set off across the desert to join the legendary races in the royal city. But the road to Calidia is filled with danger, and the trio must band together as they encounter ferocious cave beasts, clever desert foxes, and cutthroat competition.
ARC provided by Macmillan Children’s Publishing via NetGalley for an honest review.
I just adore that cover! It really is striking and depicts what water dragons would look like racing. It really conveys a sense of what this story is all about.
Silver was a wonderful character, full of spunk and courage. She has a wonderful relationship with her cousin Brajon, which was nice to see. Her relationship with her parents was pretty realistic. There was tension between her and her father, because of her lack of focus on becoming a jeweler, but you could still see that they loved each other. Silver’s adventures shows how brave and strong she is and willing to do what it takes to get what she wants. But she is also compassionate and willing to sacrifice her dreams to help others in trouble. Her bond with Hiyyan was also very precious. Hiyyan has quite the personality and as they struggle to get to know each other and to understand each other, their bond only gets stronger.
The plot was well done, although there were some slow spots and at times I was a bit confused as to how much time was passing. But the rest of the story makes up for these short comings. The world building was wonderful. I loved the Arab-inspired world which shows mostly through the food, clothing and architecture. The addition of water dragons was unique. There are a variety of types and they are all described well enough that I could picture them quite well. Silver’s descriptions of riding Hiyyan for the first time was awesome, especially when they flew. There were also some good twists to the story, and the descriptions of the racing were fascinating.
Overall a really good start to an exciting new series. My kids who love the Wings of Fire series, will be excited to read this as well.