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Review: The Mark of the Dragonfly by Jaleigh Johnson

Book Summary
Fans of The City of Ember will loveThe Mark of the Dragonfly, an adventure story set in a magical world that is both exciting and dangerous.

Piper has never seen the Mark of the Dragonfly until she finds the girl amid the wreckage of a caravan in the Meteor Fields.

The girl doesn't remember a thing about her life, but the intricate tattoo on her arm is proof that she's from the Dragonfly Territories and that she's protected by the king. Which means a reward for Piper if she can get the girl home.

The one sure way to the Territories is the 401, a great old beauty of a train. But a ticket costs more coin than Piper could make in a year. And stowing away is a difficult prospect--everyone knows that getting past the peculiar green-eyed boy who stands guard is nearly impossible.

Life for Piper just turned dangerous. A little bit magical. And very exciting, if she can manage to survive the journey.

In her children's debut, The Mark of the Butterfly, Jaleigh Johnson brings to life an engaging fantasy adventure that will be quite the page turner for the young reader. Once you get past the first couple of chapters, the story really takes off and encourages you to jump right in. 

We are introduced to a young girl named Piper, whose life as a scrapper hasn't been that easy. Between losing both parents and trying to take care of herself, survival has been dependent upon the salvaging of items found in the fields after the Meteors storms that hit her town. Tired of living this life, all she wants is to find a way out to a better life that is far away from the one she currently has. 

During one of the storms, while trying to find her best friend, she discovers a young girl named Anna, who is badly hurt with no recollection of where she came from. While trying to help her, she notices that she has a tattoo of The Mark of the Butterfly. Never having seen this before but knows anyone who has is part of the Dragonfly Territories, which is protected by the king. She decides that if she can bring her back home, there might be a reward given for her return.

Things turn when she get a knock at the door. When a man claims to be her father pushes through her door, a sense a fear overcomes Anna. Piper gets the feeling that he really isn't and judging by the way he is so desperate to get to her, there is more to this girl that appears. When things take a dangerous turn, Piper decides to put her plan into action. Not knowing what to do or how they are going to get there, she grabs what she can and the girl and head for the only way out of the town, which is the 401 train, the only way to the Dragonfly Territories. From this point on, the reader is taken on an exciting adventure that is filled with plot twists and turns that are themed with magic, danger, and friendship. 

Overall, I really enjoyed reading this book. I felt she had well thought out characters as well as a story that was easy to follow along with the right pace. At times, I thought the characters seemed more mature than their ages but considering their experiences in their lives, it added a wholesome depth that gave them their appeal. 

One part of the story that left me disappointed was that I felt like we were left hanging with what happened to Micah. I thought he was such an important part of the story that connected her life there which if it wasn't for her searching for him, she wouldn't have found Anna. As a reader, it would've been great to get closure on that because even though she wandered what happened, knowing would've closed that part of her life to begin her new journey. That's just me but when you read the book and see what happens, you might feel differently. Who knows, fingers crossed, optimistically hoping maybe they'll be another book that could possibly revisit and wrap this up. Hey, just throwing that out there...It's definitely worth the read. I would add this book to the reading list. Ideally my recommendation is for the young middle school age range but this is one that others can appreciate as well.

Reviewed by Michelle Bowles 

Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Publication date: 3/25/2014
Pages: 400

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