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Reviewed by Fiona Ingram for Readers' Favorite
Bradley Wallace Murphy just turned thirteen, and life sucks. He doesn’t fit in at school, he is no good at sports, a bully torments him, he is a disappointment to his parents, and his only “friends” are fictional characters on a TV show called “Dark Shadows.” He is growing up but wants to stay a boy, like Peter Pan. Then he finds the egg and everything changes. From this egg hatches Whilly, a supposedly mythological dragon that bonds with him physically, emotionally and spiritually. The sudden responsibility of hiding a rapidly growing dragon in a small California city of 1970 forces Bradley Wallace to grow up whether he wants to or not. Feeding a hungry dragon involves lots of raw meat, and the horrible reality of death sickens Bradley, turning him vegetarian, and upsetting his mother. Through their adventures together, the boy and dragon learn the true nature of their symbiosis, and Bradley Wallace comes to understand that he is not just a misfit kid who happened to find a misfit creature from some other time. He is something far more dangerous, a ‘super-hero’ with powers he didn’t know he had. He could be killed if the truth comes out. When the attacks begin, Bradley Wallace realizes he is up against overwhelming evil forces. Can he and Whilly survive?
What an amazing, magical adventure! Everyone who has ever imagined having a dragon, flying with it, and befriending this wonderful mythological creature will jump right into this book. Author Michael J. Bowler has such a gift for recreating the experiences and the muddled logic of a 13-year-old self-confessed misfit. He also brings the Seventies to life in wonderful detail, a time of Drive-ins, Eskimo Pie, Star Trek, and long summer holidays. I loved this story and the delicately flowering relationship between Whilly and Bradley Wallace is peppered with humor, misunderstanding, forgiveness, and a lot of acceptance (after Bradley discovers what happened to the neighborhood cats). The author cements the bonds that must survive the terrible tests facing the boy and the dragon. The story sucks the reader right into Bradley’s life, along with his slightly dysfunctional family, his bossy older sister, and the school bullies. Kids will love this adventure and adults will relish remembering being 13 again. The book is long but all the elements merge into a satisfying whole to perfectly capture the boy-dragon symbiosis. This book is intended as a trilogy and I am sure young fans will eagerly await more from Bradley Wallace and Whilly. Highly Recommended.