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Reviewed by Patricia Reding for Readers' Favorite
In Four Fiends: Countdown to Dammerung (Book 1), Nikki Bennett introduces four unique and personable youngsters, each of whom has suffered a loss or who believes himself — or perhaps is seen by the others — as lacking in some way, or who has some flaw, some negative personality trait. Jinjing, from Hong Kong, perceives herself to be “a lumbering mountain with feet,” Pietro, from Italy, forever stretches the truth because he simply feels “compelled” to do so; Kate, from the U.S., is unable to admit to any shortcomings and in the process reveals her own lack of knowledge and understanding; and Saburo, from Japan, still recovering from a severe injury, fears he lacks necessary physical strength.
Each of the children discovers a unique “pet,” after which the four are magically whisked away to an island where the Golden Dragon lives. The Four Guardians, who in the past had assisted the Golden Dragon in keeping the world in balance, have been taken captive by the Four Fiends: Gluttony, Chaos, Ignorance, and Deviousness. With the assistance of their pets and the magic those pets and the Golden Dragon provide, Jinjing, Pietro, Kate, and Saburo are challenged to face and overcome his or her own greatest weakness or fear. As the children engage in four separate adventures, what each child lacks is exposed and the strength and special skills of each is required to overcome the Four Fiends.
As young readers follow the quartet in their efforts to find and overcome the Four Fiends, they will be taken on a delightful journey that will grant them the opportunity to discover the merits of perseverance and heroism, as well as some truths about themselves and others. Bennett has drawn a clever story with fully developed and interesting characters as well as some fun and unique magic. Young readers are sure to be engaged in this well-told story that provides thoughtful, witty, age-appropriate dialogue, insightful word pictures, a bit of history, and some old myths, legends and folklore. The prose is smooth and the illustrations are engaging.