The Search for the Red Dragon The Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica, Book Two
In HERE, THERE BE DRAGONS, James A. Owen introduced readers to John, Jack and Charles, three adventurers who traveled through mythology, folklore and biblical stories to save the world in their new positions as Caretakers. Nine years have passed, but this time they come together to find the thousands of missing children disappearing all over the magical world.
John, Jack and Charles are careful never to be seen together, lest their secret status is revealed. John and Charles know that nothing good has happened when they are summoned to Jack, who has been tormented by terrible dreams. They learn that they have all shared parts of those nightmares and are about to fight the reality in the Archipelago of Dreams. When they begin to discuss what is happening, a little girl with wings flies down into the garden with a letter containing the mark of the Rose. This, among other marks, tells the men that they are needed in their role of Caretakers, but the girl, Laura Glue, is not seeking them out. She is looking for the previous Caretaker, Sir James Barrie, who wrote PETER PAN.
In this story Barrie is no author, but the now ex-friend of Peter Pan. The three men bring Laura to Barrie and learn that things are not going well since they left the Imaginarium. Aven has a son who is now missing, along with all the Dragon ships. They take off in a hurry, leaving the master tome of the IMAGINARIUM GEOGRAPHICA in John’s car by accident.
The men plow gamely ahead, with no map, to revisit several familiar folks from HERE, THERE BE DRAGONS, including Bert, and Bug, who is now King Artus. He helps them search in the library to find out where the children may have gone. They ask the Morgaine witches what is happening, only to learn that they are pulling out a tapestry of Time.
Jason and Medea’s story takes center stage in this adventure, as well as Peter Pan, the Pied Piper and the Lost Boys. Aven turns out to be a former Lost Child, and she joins them to fight for and free the children. John, Jack and Charles think that the Winter King is dead from Book One’s war, but his evil tentacles continue to reach into this story.
Even American history comes out as the Caretakers discover the Lost Colony of Roanoke. While those Lost folks have discovered an admirable racial harmony among the English and Native American settlers, they have developed some scary traits and endanger the heroes more than once.
John, Jack and Charles continue to struggle to find their gifts in their roles as Caretakers. While John may misplace the all-important book from time to time, he is still evaluating situations calmly and asking the right questions. Jack, who will never fully recover from his role in Nemo’s death from Book One, sacrifices himself in this second volume to become a child again in order to discover how that point of view may bring them to the other children. Charles is hiding things about himself and his real life that come to the forefront as the men travel through Time and famous imaginary places, only to find that his actions now impress the other two Caretakers more than the trappings of reality.
There is much to feast on in this rich, multi-layered fantasy, the continuation of a wonderful series. Each page contains familiar snippets from famous stories and characters, as well as heightened action, until a thrilling conclusion. You will want to reread PETER PAN and other favorites, but this excellent title stands alone.
Reviewed by Amy Alessio on January 1, 2008