Monday, January 7, 2019

MIDDLE GRADE BOOK REVIEW: The Language of Spells by Garret Weyr

The Language of Spells

• Hardcover: 256 pages • Publisher: Chronicle Books (June 26, 2018)

 Grisha is a dragon in a world that's forgotten how to see him. Maggie is a unusual child who thinks she's perfectly ordinary. They're an unlikely duo—but magic, like friendship, is funny. Sometimes it chooses those who might not look so likely. And magic has chosen Grisha and Maggie to solve the darkest mystery in Vienna. Decades ago, when World War II broke out, someone decided that there were too many dragons for all of them to be free. As they investigate, Grisha and Maggie ask the question everyone's forgotten: Where have the missing dragons gone? And is there a way to save them? At once richly magical and tragically historical, The Language of Spells is a novel full of adventure about remembering old stories, forging new ones, and the transformative power of friendship.

Purchase Links

Chronicle Books | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

About Garret Weyr

?Tea drinker
??Cat lover with 2 old dogs
?->?New Yorker in LA

Find out more about Garret at her website, and connect with her on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.


This quiet story of friendship and sacrifice revolves around the relationship between Grisha, a dragon, and Maggie, a young girl growing up in Vienna, Austria.  Grisha was born during a time when dragons were seen by most people as allies and used in battle.  He grew up in a forest in Germany with other creatures like himself, magical and otherwise.  An encounter with a sorcerer leaves him stuck as a teapot.  Many years later through the efforts of a friend who recognized him as living inside the teapot, he is released.  He heads to Vienna to join a group of dragons seemingly called there.  He doesn't recognize it as a trap and many of the dragons disappear thanks to the same sorcerer that Grisha encountered earlier.  Over time he pushes the memories away because they are too painful.  Things change though after he meets and befriends Maggie, a young girl living with her father in a hotel.  Once a week Grisha meets with some of the other dragons in the hotel bar to socialize and there he meets Maggie.  As Maggie asks Grisha about his past and their relationship deepens, Grisha starts to remember.  When he tells Maggie about the missing dragons, Maggie is determined to rescue them.  But in order to find them, they need to face the DEE, the enchanted organization the sorcerer left behind to manage the dragons.  And saving the dragons may require a sacrifice that Maggie and Grisha aren't willing to make.

Weyr has written a thoughtful, quiet sort of fantasy which is likely to appeal to a small group of young readers.  Since many young readers prefer action-packed plots, they may not stick with the book long enough to finish it, but those who do will find it worthwhile.  The story has depth to it with themes of friendship and sacrifice, fitting in with a changing world or being left behind, being invisible because others can't be bothered to look beyond their own world.  The black and white illustrations are a nice touch but don't particularly jump out at you.  A nice read but one that many middle grade readers aren't likely to read despite the dragons.

1 comment:

  1. Hmm, sounds like an interesting mix of historical and fantasy...younger readers might not be too excited by this one but you've piqued my interest!


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