Michelle Isenhoff

How to Slay a Dragon (The Journals of Myrth, Book One), by Bill Allen, 2011, Book Review

how to slay a dragonI happened onto this book during a free promo and approached it very cautiously. You see, about five percent of the books I find for free do I actually finish—or even get beyond page fifteen. This one looked cute, however, and I was impressed with the sample text, so I settled in for a longer read. It ended up being a wonderful surprise!
Within, Greg Hart is about to start seventh grade, and he’s not really looking forward to it. True, he is the fastest kid in his class, but that’s mainly because he’s had so much practice fleeing dangers like Manny Malice. And he’s got a great imagination. His journal is filled with the feats of daring he’s accomplished in his own mind. That’s why he thinks he’s dreaming again when he’s sucked into the land of Myrth.
In Myrth, the people live by prophecy. Seriously, it’s almost law that prophecies MUST BE FULFILLED, and the people do everything in their power to see it done. So when Greg Hart finds out he’s the fabled Greghart of prophecy, the Greghart destined to slay the dragon Ruuan and rescue the princess, he’s notably alarmed. But he’s forced into action, accompanied by a young man by the name of Lucky. (“Oh, and I’m Lucky,” the boy in orange added quickly. Greg stared at him dumbly. “Good for you.” “No, I mean my name is Lucky. Short for Luke.” “Actually, it’s longer,” Greg said.)
On their journey, they meet a variety of quirky characters: Melvin, spiteful little brother to the legendary dragon-slayer, Marvin; feisty Princess Pricilla, who insists on being called Sasha and sets out to slay the dragon herself; and Bart the Bard, who has an annoying habit of singing ballads of death and destruction just before Greg heads into danger. Together they’re attacked by a bollywomp, chased by falchions, and march to battle against a valley full of “razor teeth”—with Greg protesting all the way. Oddly enough, things do work out, just not at all in the way you’d expect it to.
My reaction?  Sweet! (As in, I totally loved it!) This book has great characters and great action and adventure. I wasn’t quite as impressed with the settings. (I felt a little bit like I was walking around on a map.) But this is truly one of the funniest books I’ve ever read. Not just turn-up-the-corner-of-your-smile funny, but big-toothy-grin funny, and sometimes even crack-up-out-loud funny. It’s not the type of book you’d want to break open, say, in a crowd of strangers, or during a funeral, or when your teacher’s lecturing. But it’s great for most other times. To celebrate the book’s high sweet adventure ranking, I’d recommend reading it with a handful of hot tomales. (Sweet. Candy. Dragon. Hot. Get it? Okay, it was a little dorky, but hey, I like hot tomales!)
Here are a few more of my favorite quotes:
His name was Manny Malistino, only everyone called him Manny Malice, or better yet, Sir, if they thought he might be listening.
Better a live coward than a dead hero, he’d (Greg) always believed.
“Get some sleep.” Yes, of course. Wouldn’t want to be tired when I’m killed by the witch.
“Now, would you prefer to be roasted, mauled, or eaten?” If ever there was a question that deserved to be rhetorical… “Are there any other choices?”
The action, humor and word plays will appeal to the middle school crowd, though there’s absolutely nothing to prevent younger ones from reading. Language and content are perfectly clean. I’d highly recommend it for ages 10+.  I so enjoyed it that I’m awarding it the much-coveted (hee, hee) Squeaky Award.
The Journals of Myrth sequels also by Bill Allen:

You can find Mr. Allen on his website.

How to Slay a Dragon (The Journals of Myrth, Book One), by Bill Allen, 2011, Book Review

7 thoughts on “How to Slay a Dragon (The Journals of Myrth, Book One), by Bill Allen, 2011, Book Review

  1. Enjoyed your review. Really sounds like you had a great time with the book!
    Finished The Candle Star. Wow — you are good . I didn’t want the book to end. Want to read the other two books. There are many books on slavery, but you showed me something completely new! Am traveling and will read Quill Pen on my trip. My computer is down so I couldn’t send you an e-mail. Loved that it was based on many true facts and events.

    1. Pat, that is high praise! Thank you so much! I’m glad you enjoyed it. The premise for the book actually came during research I was doing for a family vacation to Gettysburg. I stumbled on the account of a hotel owner in Detroit who housed slave catchers while hiding runaways in his barn. It grew from there. Enjoy your trip!

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