Jake Winston is just your ordinary thirteen-year-old boy who breathes fire.
He discovers his unique talent one beautiful fall day in Asheville, N.C., and finds his life forever changed. YA standout author Brian Kacica has penned a stellar new novel, Jake and the Dragons of Asheville, and it’s spellbinding.
He provides a startling start to Jake’s journey in exploration of his singular heritage, which is native American infused with dragon blood — known as Destovans. Jake’s grandfather, Don, a rugged ex-cop who also happens to share the awesome bloodline, begins teaching Jake about his newfound powers — then is sidelined by a disabling stroke.
After that, Jake must go it largely alone, relying on best friend Arnie to help him get through the myriad of mystery surrounding his quest to find the Dragon King deep inside the Forest of Asheville.
It’s a harrowing, adventure-rich odyssey as Jake probes the depths of both the storied forest — filled with talking animals and sinister military drones — and his own emerging manhood, into which he’s been forced to grow way too early because of an incident involving his father early in the book.
However, best bud Arnie is also put out of the action just before Jake begins his greatest task and dons the almost messianic mantle for which he is destined — the saving of the world’s remaining dragons.
This is a finely wrought, well-crafted and meticulously edited story with wonderful humor and relatable characters of all ages. Even though it’s clearly geared for a Young Adult audience, just about anyone can get easily wrapped up in Jake’s improbable quest — which is skillfully rendered very believable by the author.
Some of his colorful dialogue and turns-of-phrase are priceless, such as this gem, hidden within a fortune cookie:
“A statue will be erected for you one day. Be kind to pigeons.”
In a great read that abounds in precarious situations, noble quests and dry humor, this novel never disappoints. Five-plus stars to Jake and the Dragons of Asheville. We hope there’s a sequel in the wings.