cover image The Hidden Dragon

The Hidden Dragon

Melissa Marr. Penguin/Paulsen, $17.99 (176p) ISBN 978-0-525-51855-6

In this meandering nautical fantasy, a loose companion to Marr’s The Hidden Knife, a seafaring tween with the ability to sense dragons embarks on a journey to save her friends and family. Twelve-year-old Ottilie “Otter” Jo Maul is most at home aboard her adoptive fathers’ ship, the HMS Tempest, which sails the Crimson Sea collecting shed dragon hides at the Glass Queen’s behest. When streetwise orphan London sneaks aboard the ship in search of a better life, he and Otter forge a bond that serves them well after a dragon-related mishap at sea leaves them shipwrecked in a magical realm, Netherwhere. There, Otter discovers hidden truths behind her adoption and her affinity for dragon-finding. Meanwhile, street thief Sofia infiltrates the Glass Queen’s court, hoping to shine a light on the plight of the empire’s children, many of whom are unhoused or have gone missing. Through abruptly shifting parallel narratives that take time to intertwine, Marr gently works in themes of hope, compassion, and social responsibility, set against the backdrop of a fanciful, magic-filled world reminiscent of the Victorian era. Tidily resolved conflict gives way to an uplifting, character-focused tale about family and grand adventure. Ages 10–up. Agent: Merrilee Heifetz, Writers House. (Feb.)