starlighter book coverReviewed by Jennifer Jensen

Jason has grown up hearing the myths about a planet of dragons whose inhabitants kidnap humans and enslave them, but he never believed in those tales until now. After Jason’s brother, a believer, goes missing and leaves behind a cryptic note, Jason must open his mind to the possibility that the stories are true. As he searches for the fabled portal that leads from the dragon’s realm to his own, Jason becomes the scapegoat in a political assassination. In the depths of the dungeons, Jason reconnects with his childhood friend Elyssa, who was thought to have been taken and mauled by hostile bears. Elyssa has powers of her own that are a threat to the current government. With Elyssa and Tibalt, another prisoner who has ties to the dragon realm known as Starlight, Jason will enter the portal in search of his missing kin. Jason finds horrors greater than any he could have imagined, and must race against time to prevent a dark prophecy from coming true.

Koren, a human enslaved on Darksphere, vaguely remembers a world where humans were free. Though a slave, Koren’s assignment is much more comfortable than that of most of the humans in her realm. Koren has a gift, a powerfully persuasive ability to enchant her captors with stories, that will either be the salvation of her people or their ultimate demise. Koren and Jason must work together to set the Lost Ones free and bring them back home to Darksphere. A prophecy surrounding the mysterious black egg which contains the unborn dragon prince threatens to thwart their efforts of overthrowing the dragons. With the help of an unlikely ally, there is still an inkling of hope for Jason and Koren.

In Starlighter, Bryan Davis creates a vividly haunting alternate universe where dragons have enslaved humans. Magic is generously used to further the plot and develop some of the main characters and their purposes, making for an epic fantasy adventure. Many characters are introduced in this first installment of a four book series, and sometimes I found it difficult to keep the characters and their strengths and weaknesses straight. Overall, they are well-developed with strong personalities of their very own, and room for growth in future books. The most fascinating character to me was Arxad, Koren’s dragon master. He is loyal to his own people, but risks his own scales to assist Koren and Jason in their mission.

Starlighter is more than just a young adult fantasy, however. Throughout the novel there are subtle religious messages, but I did not find them to be preachy in any way. Readers who are just interested in a magical tale will not be disappointed, and those looking for more meaning behind the words will also discover what they are looking for. I’d recommend Starlighter for any church youth group to read and discuss with one another.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Jennifer graduated from the University of Utah with a BA in English. She occasionally dabbles with her own fiction writing, particularly with the Young Adult and Paranormal genres. She currently resides in Utah with her husband and daughter.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by HarperCollins Publishing. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.