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Dragon's Tooth

Ashtown Burials #1
by N. D. Wilson
Mass market paperback, 496 pages
Price: $7.99

Cyrus, Antigone, and Dan Smith live in the run-down Archer motel. Their father lies at the bottom of the ocean; their mother sleeps in a hospital bed. One night a man named William Skelton (or "Billy Bones") arrives and names Cyrus and Antigone the heirs to his vast fortune, provided they join the secret society known as the Order of Brendan. He then gifts Cyrus with a strange set of keys.

But a villain named Maxi is hot on Bones' trail, and he is willing to burn the Archer motel to the ground in order to procure the mysterious tooth attached to that key ring. He kills Skelton and kidnaps Dan, and Cyrus and Antigone barely escape with their lives. With only a number of hours to arrive at the society and claim their inheritance, Cyrus and Antigone decide to join the Order of Brendan in the hope of saving their brother.

The Smiths soon discover that this society coexists with a group of people known as the transmortals, famous figures in history who achieved immortality and now roam the earth. Their numbers include the likes of Maxi (better known as Maximillien Robespierre), Rasputin, Captain John Smith, and Gilgamesh. The transmortals made treaties with the Order of Brendan, swearing not to harm the mortals in return for protection from the Order. Those who broke their treaties were captured by the Order and locked up forever in the Ashtown Burials.

The only thing that can kill a transmortal is the relic known as the Dragon's Tooth, which has the power to kill immortals and raise the dead. Though it has been lost for centuries, Cyrus soon realizes that it was given to him with the key ring by Billy Bones. But a sinister mad scientist named Dr. Phoenix has designs on the Dragon's Tooth, and he will stop at nothing to obtain it—including infiltrating the Order of Brendan itself.

As usual, N.D. Wilson has interesting things to say about life and death, in the context of a unique and tangled plot and a cast of quirky characters. With a host of literary allusions, ranging from Treasure Island to Dr. Moreau, Dragon's Tooth also switches up the formula with a really fun twist on history, both real and mythical. His signature fanciful style of writing may be off-putting for some, but those who can get past it will find enough action and mystery to hold their interest.

The descriptions of blood, gore, violence, and evil can sometimes be a bit intense and creepy. Know your child before you hand this book off to him. But for those children who can handle it, the book is an exciting read in the style of Percy Jackson and Indiana Jones, and (best of all for avid readers) only the first in a planned five-book series.

Ashtown Burials I--The Dragon's Tooth (book trailer) from Gorilla Poet Productions on Vimeo

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Customer Reviews

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  An Intelligent and Rip-Roaring Adventure
Roseanne Spears of Oregon City, OR, 8/7/2012
The Dragon’s Tooth, by N. D. Wilson was released about six months ago with much fanfare and excitement. I had enjoyed a couple of Wilson’s other children’s books, Leepike Ridge and The 100 Cupboards, but my disappointment with books 2 and 3 in the 100 Cupboards series made me reluctant to attempt The Dragon’s Tooth. When the fanfare subsided, I pretty much forgot that the book existed. Earlier this month, however, my six-year-old nephew proudly showed it off to me as the longest book he’s ever read. I decided to place it on hold at the library and give it a whirl.

Twelve-year-old Cyrus Smith lives in a dilapidated old motel with his older sister Antigone and older brother Dan. With their father dead for several years and their mother in a coma, the Smith children are forced to fend for themselves. For Cyrus, life consists of mundane things like skipping school, collecting old tires, and eating waffles. But when a strange guest named William Skelton checks in at the motel and demands to receive Room 111, life for the Smith children takes a radical change.

As the motel goes up in flames around them, Cyrus and Antigone find themselves initiates in a secret society known as the Order of Brendan with a bloodthirsty villain named Maximillien Robespierre on their trail. The children flee to Ashtown, a secret city housing the Order of Brendan, bringing with them a set of magical keys, an invisible snake named Patricia, and a shiny black shard said to be a piece of a dragon’s tooth. The adventure only gets wilder from there with venomous whip spiders, dragonfly surveillance cameras, friendly bull sharks, and immortal enemies. The book is a thrilling page-turner full of allusions to history and literature, a sort of Treasure Island of Dr. Moreau. (And no, I’m not going to explain that. You’ll have to read it see what I mean.) The only disappointment I had after finishing it is that the next book of the series hasn’t yet been published. I can wait. But not very patiently.
  Enjoyed By the Whole Family.
Miss Pickwickian of NW Oregon, 8/7/2012
A story with many threads, gripping for all ages, but with the distinct flavor of being written by an understanding father of wild boys (and/or someone who has retained boyish delight).

N.D. Wilson combines the mundaneness of American living with fantastical keys, teeth, and hidden academies. He paints interesting characters and tells the unbelievable in such a normal, unapologetic way that it sends you knee-deep before you realizes you're only sitting in a chair reading a book.

"The Dragon's Tooth" drops a few characters, which was a little annoying, but forgivable. Overall it will make you scared, sad, and happy, but most of all, eager for the next book!

"The Dragon's Tooth" is somehow both darker and more frolicking than most stories. Which is, in some ways, just how Christian fiction should be. N.D. Wilson never lapses into homilies or Scripture verses, but can't help incorporating Biblical themes and language which form part of the backbone of the book. He's a great example of a Christian author--not an author who writes "Christian fiction".

The characters were interesting and I thought Cyrus was a wonderful lead...most of his characters use snarky wit in abundance, but have multiple other differences which make them distinguishable.

His descriptions are often both unique and artistic and his musings on death make me almost ready to forgive him for writing more kid's fiction instead of more "Notes form the Tilt-a-Whirl." :-)

I haven't been reading a lot of fantasy lately and to start a book of this size, I have to trust the author. I enjoyed every minute of it.
  A Fun Read
Daniel of Oregon, 8/7/2012
My wife and I read this book out loud together. I don't usually read fantasy books, but I have enjoyed ND Wilson's.

I wouldn't necessarily recommend the book for younger kids, because of some creepier parts, but it was very fun to read. The descriptions of places (like the old motel) were some of my favorite parts of the book.

It was also suspenseful and interesting. If you think about a few of the characters you might notice allusions to characters from history and the classics. The book had a good story line (not predictable), with lots of interesting details as well.
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