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Reviewed by Pikasho Deka for Readers' Favorite
The Dragon Garden is a young adult mystery novel by Resa Nelson. Eleven-year-old Pingzi Po is the only known demon queller in the Far East in centuries. But when an Honorable Scholar named Gao Guang claims to be a demon queller from the Feng Shu Province, Pingzi fears for her freedom. Emperor Po sends her and her guardian, Benzel of the Wolf, on a mission to the coastal city of Sheng to find the truth. Upon arriving in Sheng, Pingzi soon discovers that the Dragon's Breath has been stolen, and after failing to find the demon queller, she seeks sanctuary in the Dragon Temple. When the dragon woman Tong Shengzong is attacked, Pingzi realizes her own healing abilities. But will she be able to fulfill her duties as a demon queller?
A captivating mystery adventure tale filled with unexpected twists and turns, The Dragon Garden touches upon some relevant social issues of equality and sexism through the lens of a young girl's quest to find the truth. Resa Nelson's worldbuilding is phenomenal and is inspired by medieval kingdoms of Eastern civilizations. This is primarily due to the believable characters, who act and talk like real people from medieval times, especially in front of royalty. Pingzi is a quick-witted and gifted girl who admirably shoulders responsibility far beyond her age. I found her relationship with the no-nonsense Northlander Benzel adorable, and as a reader, you can't help rooting for them. The story plays out like a sleuth mystery in a medieval setting and yet is surprisingly poignant at times. I think young adult readers will really enjoy this one.