Rebecca Lim is a Melbourne-based author and illustrator with seventeen books to her credit and she has packed a lot into this exciting first book in the series The Children of the Dragon, aimed at the 9-12 age group.
Harley Spark is a normal 13-year-old boy living with his mum. His father, Ray, is alleged to be a major (unconfirmed) underworld crime figure which is just one of a host of reasons his parents no longer live together. He’s normal, that is, until he has an overwhelming urge to pick up and take home a Chinese vase which appears to be discarded on the footpath outside the auction rooms just by his house.
Then weird things begin to happen. Harley can’t stop staring at the vase; he seems unable to move away and is sitting in his room, in the dark, when his mum, Delia, gets home hours later. It’s as if he is being drawn into the vase and only through a great effort does Delia manage to break it. From the blinding light that erupts, a girl in ancient Chinese court dress appears.
The girl, Qing, relates a very strange tale of being one of the five daughters of the Dragon King and, through a magic spell, she had been trapped in the vase for hundreds of years. There is a mysterious potter’s mark on the base of the vase which is at the heart of the mystery.
Harley appeals to his father to use his underworld connections (unconfirmed) and help Qing find out about the origins of the vase. Directed to the wonderfully named Antediluvian House, the children soon find themselves at the centre of a huge international squabble over the vase. Harley ducks and weaves while Qing flattens the opposition with spectacular martial art moves.
The two protagonists are joined by Harley’s dad, Ray, and his brilliantly drawn helper, Schumacher (Harley had never been exactly sure what he ‘helped’ with) and the plot thickens even further as they are smuggled from Melbourne to Singapore and, after more mayhem, then fly on to Macau (page 97).
The action rattles along at a great pace, always holding the reader’s interest and I can’t wait for the next book in the series. I can highly recommend this magical tale.
Reviewed by Jan Kershaw
Rating out of 10: 9
Distributed by: Allen & Unwin
Released: August 2018