Daniel and Beatrice have been staying with an uncle and are waiting for their parent's ship to dock (not sure where the uncle is but they are alone). The two haven't seen their parents in four years. While waiting, they get a note from their parents saying that the Prince of India still needs their help, they won't be coming home, and the two need to go stay with a Dr. Drake. Beatrice and Daniel arrive at Drake's place only to be kept waiting in his shop. Daniel hears a noise in the room next door and thinks he sees a dragon. Drake won't talk to him about it and the two find out that Drake runs a school in the summer on dragonology. The two become members of a secret society that keeps dragons a secret from humanity. Drake is in conflict with Ignatious who wants to be the Master Dragon and have the power to rule the world. He's in league with a Russian dragonologist who also has plans of her own. We never find out her goals. When Ignatious starts stealing artifacts it is up to Drake, Beatrice, and Drake to stop them.
Younger readers might be more forgiving of this book and swept up in the adventure but it fell short in many ways for me. As a character Drake is a dweeb and he's supposed to be the wise mentor or teacher. Problem? He's lousy at both. He is unfair with his treatment of Daniel whom he punishes for snooping around when Daniel hears a dragon flapping around in the room next door. Duh! Who wouldn't look in a room if some exotic creature was there. I was willing to buy it except he makes him spend an entire week reading inside. That didn't fit the crime. Drake is never upfront with Beatrice and Daniel and the author uses him to force the plot along. For instance, Daniel reads, The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin, and learns about natural selection and his study of dragons on the Galapagos islands. By punishing him for the week the author was able to get in his information about dragons. Beatrice starts out as this fearless tough girl who isn't going to get her hat stolen but then she won't even check out the wild creature flapping in the room with Daniel. That seemed contrary to her character when we first meet her.
The adults avoid talking about things and this type of suspense building drives me crazy. Once used in a plot I can take, but when it is done time again by multiple characters then I get irritated by the lack of plot development. The author also reveals too much or not enough in the plot and it disrupts the pacing. When Billy meets Beatrice and Daniel an avalanche of information is provided. It could have been trickled out with the adults. Then they wouldn't have looked so inept. For instance, Daniel reads a long list of 12 treasures that are needed for the story's plot, but it was boring, and at that point all we needed to know was number 12. Fifty pages or so later when the other items are introduced than the information could have be given.
The setting needed more about the kids in boarding school and why their parents would leave them for 4 years. The uncle wasn't developed either. Why wasn't he with them at the beginning and then why was he the concerned uncle at the end getting the police involved so he could have the children? It wasn't consistent. More information is given later in the book that makes sense of the parents and why they couldn't see their children but I thought it should have been moved to the beginning. I kept thinking, why didn't the parents just bring the two with to India? The dragons aren't very scary which made it somewhat boring and there wasn't a resolution at the end of the story. Maybe the sequel will be better. I'll never know.
Reading Level: 5.7
2 out of 5 Smileys