By Ekta R. Garg
August 20, 2018
Genre: Middle grade fantasy
Release date: June 26, 2018
Rated: Bypass it / 2 stars
A girl and a dragon team up to save other dragons who have been imprisoned. During their quest they become best friends and explore various locations in Europe, all with an evil sorcerer hunting them. Author Garret Weyr misses the mark by a wide margin in the dragging novel The Language of Spells.
After a long enchantment as a teapot, Benevolentia “Grisha” Gaudium finds himself in Vienna. Other dragons have also arrived in the city, answering an inexplicable call only they could hear. Grisha didn’t hear the call, but he finds out from a dear human friend that the other dragons are headed for Austria and Grisha knows he must go too.
He arrives at the famous Hotel Sacher in Vienna and meets more dragons than he has in many years. Life was lonely as a teapot. His new friend circle includes dragons who have experienced all sorts of adventures; while he finds their bragging a little tiresome, he’s happy to be among his own kind again.
Soldiers have the task of keeping the dragons organized. Grisha gets a job in one of the castles along the Danube river. Other dragons also get assigned work, and the Department of Extinct Exotics, or D.E.E., is formed to make sure the dragons stay on task. Dozens of the dragons go missing, however, and Grisha and his friends don’t know why.
Then Grisha meets Anna “Maggie” Marguerite. Maggie and her father live in the Hotel Sacher. They moved there after Maggie’s mother dies in a terrible accident, although Maggie has no memory of the accident or of her mother. Maggie finds in Grisha her first friend, and the two become inseparable. They explore the city together, and Maggie is thrilled that Grisha doesn’t eye her in a strange way as children do when she asks questions. He’s more than happy to provide answers or help her find them.
Except he can’t answer the question about the missing dragons. Why were they banished? Who made the decision to send those dragons away? Most importantly: where did they go?
Grisha seems reluctant to consider any of these matters. After all those years under the enchantment, he doesn’t want to jeopardize his position with the D.E.E. and come under scrutiny himself. He also can’t ignore Maggie’s questions, however, and soon enough the two set out on a mission: to find the missing dragons and free them.
Author Garret Weyr takes an interesting concept and lets it unravel, much to the novel’s detriment. The book stands at 299 pages, and Maggie and Grisha don’t meet until almost a third of the way into the story. Weyr spends the first third of the book describing Grisha’s life both before and during his enchantment as a teapot, taking up precious story real estate. Some of the elements are interesting, but many of them were unnecessary.
The sluggish pace continues even after Maggie and Grisha become friends. The moments they share are sweet and a constant gentle reminder to readers that friendships can come with “beings” [read: people] of all different backgrounds and looks. Weyr offers many examples of this tenet, sacrificing pacing and plot development in the process.
Many unexplained things about the world of magic stay that way with the book’s omniscient narrator using phrases like, “No one knew why…”. Readers might appreciate some of the mystery, but part of a book’s charm is to find out secrets. The target audience, while younger, may not appreciate this constant cloak-and-dagger approach to underdeveloped story elements.
While the ending may surprise many, it will take an incredibly patient reader to get there. Maggie and Grisha are likeable as characters, endearing even, but the story around them doesn’t do them or their friendship any justice. I recommend readers Bypass The Language of Spells.