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
Review by Lauren Shearer
Lauren Shearer writes words for fun and profit. She also makes films, but everyone knows you can't make a profit doing that. Her other hobby is consistently volunteering way too much of her time. You can read more of her reviews here.
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