I've been booktalking this for a year without reading it (I know, I know, but I do it all the time. I don't always agree that booktalking something you've read is better. Sometimes it's harder to booktalk a book you know intimately, especially if it's something you really love. That's my feeling anyways) but when I finally got around to it, I really enjoyed it. The cover is misleading though - the dragon is a very minor character and only shows up at the end! It was a good cover choice though, since that's why most kids pick up this book.
This was a really refreshing book to read and very British. It seems like American children's literature, especially fantasy, gets more didactic all the time, even if the "lesson" is just How to Be a Good Friend. There's absolutely no lesson in this book. The elderly godmothers enchant children to steal for them, turn millionaires into slaves and cheerfully inform Tom that he's a second-class citizen because he's a demisprite. At the end, they just as cheerfully reform, admit humans do have some good points after all in passing, and everyone lives happily ever after. Tom and his friends incinerate fairy guards with their lightning guns without post-traumatic stress disorder and while his inept cousin does turn out to have some useful abilities, he doesn't magically gain...magical powers.
Verdict: In other words, this is a light, fun, action-packed read. Kids won't care about the holes in the plot when they're breathlessly waiting to find out if Tom disintegrates when he passes through the fairy realm barrier and anyone would forget that their mother was encased in a jar of sun-dried tomatoes when they're caught up in an exciting fairy court case. Magical and delightful, just the thing to add to your collection and balance all the drama-heavy fantasy series.
ISBN: 9780385740777; Published 2012 by Delacorte/Random House; Review copy provided by publisher; Purchased for the library