Charles de Lint once again shows us that the world is indeed a magical place in his latest young adult novel, The Painted Boy. This is a story about a young Chinese boy whose destiny is to become the next dragon in the Yellow Dragon clan. He has been training for several years with his grandmother, but is still confused as to what the dragon is and his purpose. Jay knows that the dragons have protected the Chinese emperors for years, but now they have no one specific to protect and he must find his own cause. Jay’s grandmother decides that Jay must travel and find his way, so she has him randomly point to a location on a map. This act takes him to a small town in southern Arizona that is being over run with gangs and drugs. It doesn’t take long for Jay to realize that this is where his protection as the dragon is most needed.
This book was so much fun to read. Jay encounters so many different types of characters, both magical and “normal”, to keep you completely absorbed in the story. His own magical journey from average boy who is worried about girls, to a true yellow dragon with the responsibility to protect an entire town was great. However, I found myself routing for Jay to have some normalcy in his young adult life and not just the magic of the dragon. This internal battle was so well portrayed throughout the novel. De Lint does a fabulous job of showing the wonder and beauty of the desert. I found myself wanting to go out for hike and look at the desert with a new perspective. If you are looking to find magic in your ordinary world, read a De Lint novel. He captures the urban magical world perfectly, just remember to “look sideways”.
Be sure to come to the Mostly Books tent at the Tucson Festival of Books on March 12th at 10:15am to get your favorite Charles de Lint book autographed! (I know I can’t wait to have some of mine signed!)
To order, go to our site mostlybooksaz.com