Kayl Karadjian’s fantasy adventure, Dragonsoul, is set in a world divided, with one side that is vibrantly colourful and another which is devoid of it. This concept forms the backbone of the world he has created, as well as the story line itself. Humans live in the Gloom, where colour has been so well removed that most people don’t even know what it is.
In this grey world, dragons are hunted, their coloured scales a final testament to what once was. As dragons are nearing extinction so too is the Gloom spreading, soon to encompass the entire world.
The story follows the lives and friendship of a grey boy, Denyth, and the last remaining dragon, Littlehorn, as they seek to find survive and find answers: what is the Gloom and can it be prevented? Their journey shows them the wonder of colour:
On the trees and foliage was a vibrant green. The leaves beneath their feet, a golden hue, and a browner one beneath the leaves signifying dirt. A blue sky above. A yellowish-orange sun floating in the blue. It was not only breathtaking in a visual sense, for Littlehorn’s eyes were overwhelmed, but also with the other senses. The vibrant color seemed to enhance even his smell and hearing. A fresh, vagrant aroma filled his nose from nearby flowers, magnified to a greater degree than any flower that could be found under the Gloom. The sound of birds chirping above coupled with water sprinkling across a brook nearby was almost musical.
The concept of the story is intriguing and although it uses a backdrop of well established fantasy creatures – such as goblins, trolls and, of course, dragons – it doesn’t limit itself to them. This book is enchanting and will spark your imagination.
There are, however, several negative points. The most obvious one that you’ll encounter is the quality of writing. There are numerous grammatical errors, incorrect use of tense and some sections that read clumsily. This is a shame because as the book goes on, the writing actually improves. But, at present, the book needs some further editing. A couple of examples:
She reciprocated by yanking him off the ground with strength belying her form into a standing position, and he felt aches all over.It spilled forth fire, but when before it had been a scalding inferno it was now but merely embers. It swiped with its claws, but when before they were deadly attacks, they were now paltry in comparison. It whipped its tail, but when before it was powerful enough to crush rock, it hardly even knocked anyone unconscious. Even its head was hung low, its ragged breaths the last vestige of its once terrifying life.
The story is strangely paced and certain sections feel rushed or not vital to the story. At one point they travel from ice covered mountains, in the frozen north, almost succumbing to hypothermia but the journey back to a moderate clime takes only a few hours. That said, the book does have a well defined beginning, middle and end, and I particularly liked the way each character developed, especially in the final pages.
What the book struggles with most is a defined audience. For me the book would sit best with a pre-teen audience, with a simple story of light versus dark, filled with talking walruses and pacifist trolls. But mixed in with this are violent scenes as well as some more complex moral messages, mainly surrounding Zero, who plays the part of blood-thirsty, yet misguided, protagonist.
This book has great potential as a children’s or YA fantasy story, certainly containing no shortage of creativity, but it needs is a good round of editing before it truly fills a reader’s world with colour.