East meets West; past meets present; criminal minds meet skilled artists – welcome to the Mysterium, a circus with dark and thrilling secrets at its heart.
Twelve-year-old Danny Woo is half-Chinese, half-British. His parents are performers in the Mysterium. Following their death in a mysterious fire, Danny is sent to live with his aunt Laura, an investigative journalist. When Danny’s school is closed after an explosion, he joins Laura on a trip to Hong Kong. She is researching the Triad gangs; he is trying to understand more about his cultural background.
But Laura disappears, and Danny is plunged into a dangerous quest to find her – which opens the door on the past he could never have imagined, and which leads him to question everything he has ever known about his past.
I felt the same way about The Black Dragon on the whole as I felt about its protagonist, Danny. I liked him enough, and thought he was funny enough, but he just didn’t give me enough to keep me interested. I felt like his past was more interesting than his present which probably isn’t a good thing.
Danny grew up in a travelling Circus, The Mysterium, where his Dad was an escapologist and his mum a high wire acrobat. Prior to the events in The Black Dragon Danny’s dad dies in an under-water trick that he’d performed hundred times over, and shortly after their trailer is set on fire and his mum is killed too.
Under the care of his aunt Laura, Danny is just settling into a more traditional life and trying to get through the boredom of high school when an explosion goes off and Laura whisks him away to Hong Kong.
It’s not long before Laura is kidnapped leaving Danny and Zamora, an Italian Dwarf – a friend from The Mysterium days – to find Laura and find out how all of these things are connected.
As fun as this was, the whole way through I just wanted it to be about The Mysterium and didn’t really care about finding Laura. By the looks of it, the next book in the series might do just that, so I’ll definitely check it out when the time comes.
I enjoyed the characters here, especially Zamora, and the fast pace of the adventure was welcome but it didn’t have enough strings to its bow to really hook me. I do feel like this could improve in later books though.
Disclosure: I received a copy from Hodder Children’s Books via World Book Day
Details: Paperback, 340 pages, Published 2013 by Hodder Children’s Books
My Rating: 3 out of 5 Unicorns
Is it a keeper? Although I will check out the next book I’ve already added this to My Swapping List.
If you liked this try: Charlie’s Monsters by Dean Lorey. Similar in style…swap magic for monsters and viola!