Lily Quench and the Dragon of Ashby

Title: Lily Quench and the Dragon of Ashby
Author: Natalie Jane Prior
Primary Audience/age group: Preteen (ages 9-12)
Genre: adventure/fantasy
# Of pages: 152
Publisher: Puffin Books
Year of Release: 1999
Part of a Series? Yes, 1 of 7
Rating: 3 View Scale
Recommend? Yes, but with reservation


Description: (from book jacket) As a family of dragon slayers, the Quenches of Ashby have always been burning successesuntil the evil Black Count invades, and the familys fortunes go into a downward spiral. Then a dragon arrives unexpectedly in Ashby and young Lily, the last of the Quenches, is called upon to fight it. Lily doesnt know anything about quenching dragons! But despite this, she soon finds herself on a desperate, magical quest to save Ashby from destruction and restore the lost heir to his throne.


Review: It seems that all the fantasy/adventure stories star a boy, with a girl as a sidekick. I wanted to find an adventure story with a girl as the hero, but Im afraid Lily Quench is not my girl. Before going any further, let me say this review is based on only the first book and that there are apparently several in the series, so some of what I didnt like may have changed over time. But I wont be recommending this for my nine-year-old daughter its just too dark, without enough redeeming qualities to overcome the darkness.


Rating: 3, for implied violence and overall dark atmosphere


Positive: (Spoiler alert!) The good guys win in the end. Lily overcomes her lack of self-confidence to do some brave things.


Spiritual Elements: Religion has been banned by the Black Count, but one preacher continues his work underground (although it seems that work is mainly to perform marriages). There is some magic central to the story, as when Lily consults the Oracle to find what she must do.


Violence: This is what most bothered me about this book. Certainly, there is not graphic violence, but there is enough implied violence that Im not comfortable with it for the audience the book targets. There is some torture (off screen) at the climax of the book. And as silly as it sounds, I was bothered when the soldiers came in and ruthlessly destroyed Lilys home and possessions while looking for something.


Language: Its been a couple of weeks since I finished the book, and I dont remember any objectionable language. However, there are a couple of characters who seem like the type of people who would use bad language, ha ha!


Sexual Content: Miss Moldavia is going to force the Prince to marry her.


Other: The main reason I didnt like this book was because it was just so dark. The Black Counts conquest of Ashby has left life a dreary, hopeless drudgery where people are forced to work their lives away in the grommet factory. The villain of the story, Miss Moldavia, is consumed with ambition and will do anything to anyone to get what she wants. I thought sometimes she was a little over the top for a pre-teen book. Another thing I didnt like was that Lily was completely alone at the beginning of the book, her grandmother has died, and shes left with no one. I think there is some effort to have Lily be friends with the dragon (which happens in a very unconvincing way, in my opinion), but I never feel like she has anyone to support her. At least in the Harry Potter series, Harry may be an orphan, but he had loyal friends.


Rating: 3, for implied violence and overall dark atmosphere


Recommendation: In a world thats already so dark and depressing, I dont need Lily Quench. I personally think there must be better adventure series out there for pre-teens. My daughter loved the Fairy Realm books by Emily Rodda (which also have a girl for a hero), but she read the first two or three chapters of Lily Quench and then dropped it. I asked why, and she said it was boring at first. Obviously, other kids dont think so, since the series has seven or eight books by now.

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