“Stuffed with intricate detail and complemented by a short note indicating a connection to real-world history, this first installment in a new trilogy introduces the characters, who host the story in alternating chapters, and sends the intrepid band on a hair-raising quest….Readers will be on tenterhooks awaiting the next episode of this exhilarating chase.”—Booklist
“Yep’s writing is absolutely fantastic, and the blending of many cultures is done with grace and skill….It’s a lot of fun and promise sequels of equal caliber.”—School Library Journal Book Reviews by Young Adults
“The cast is as engaging as it is diverse.”—Kirkus Reviews
“In his new book, [Yep] again combines his regular themes of history, fantasy, and Asian culture into an exciting YA story set in an alternate world of 1941. City of Fire brings to life ancient myth and legend, in an easy and fun to read book…and should entertain readers looking for something new and different in a sea of Harry Potter-cloned books.”—Sacramento Book Review
“Brilliant, exciting, and highly original, City of Fire is an absolutely magnificent fantasy adventure! Laurence Yep creates a truly believable alternate world that is loaded with great magic—in a book that radiates great magic of its own.”—T. A. Barron, New York Times bestselling author of The Great Tree of Avalon
VOYA - KaaVonia Hinton-Johnson
It is 1941 in San Francisco, where citizens share their city with shape-shifters, flying dragons, people with magical powers, and goddesses. The book begins with an introduction of four strangers who decide to go to the Hearn Museum for various reasons. Bayang, disguised as an old woman, goes because her prey, Leech, and his friend, Koko, will be there. Twelve-year-old Scirye attends because her mother, Lady Sudarshane, is a liaison for the new exhibit that features Kushan treasures. While spectators admire the exhibit, four large monsters fly in and attack them. Everyone, including Scirye, a scarcely trained fighter, snaps into warrior mode, but they cannot prevent Batik, the lead monster, from stealing the archer's ring and destroying the mummy, Lady Tabiti. Before the monsters escape, they kill Scirye's older sister and Leech's bodyguard. Determined to avenge their deaths, Scirye, Leech, Koko, and a reluctant Bayang, board a carpet in pursuit of Batik and his accomplice Mr. Roland. Readers will enjoy the bond that develops among the characters even as Bayang struggles to carry out orders to assassinate Leech. Equally interesting is the turmoil, action, and fighting in many scenes. Yep does a fine job of telling the story through multiple perspectives, and the descriptions of historical artifacts, dragons, lap griffins (Scirye's feathered pet with wings), and shape-shifters are vivid, giving this first installment in a trilogy just the right blend of history and fantasy. Yep fans will be pleased. Reviewer: KaaVonia Hinton-Johnson
Children's Literature - Judy Silverman
The reader is thrown into a world very similar to our own, but populated by some very strange creatures indeed. The female main character, Scirye, is the daughter of Lady Sudarshane, the Kushan ambassador and coordinator of an exhibit of Kushan's ancient artifacts. These artifacts are very interesting, not only to ordinary earthlings, but to an amazing array of characters, some of whom would very much like to steal them, and some of whom would gladly kill the thieves. Then there are the dragons, at least some of whom feel that the Kushan have already stolen them. One Dragon is actually masquerading as a human (sort of) and will eventually have to learn that not all humans are evil; the male main character, Leech, (a human teenager) learns that the Kushan are not all evil either. The setting is Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, where a new island has been created to serve as an ultra-high class hotel. The owner of this new island seems to have lifted some of his ideas from Jurassic Parkhis financial minions are sharksyes, real sharks, but genetically modified air-breathing monsters in fancy suits! Reviewer: Judy Silverman
School Library Journal
Gr 4–8—In this first volume of a trilogy set in an alternate world, the ancient Kushan Empire, stretching from northern India to western China, still exists in 1941 and has loaned its most precious archaeological treasures to a museum in San Francisco. Recalling Phillip Pullman's Oxford, Yep creates a recognizable but startling city peopled with sprites, trolls, imps, and pixies, a place where magic and technology coexist. The main characters assemble at an official ceremony opening the exhibition: Scirye, aristocratic daughter of a Kushan diplomat; her lap griffin Kles; Leech, a street child; his trickster sidekick Koko; and Bayang, a female dragon disguised as a Pinkerton agent. As an earthquake interrupts the ceremony, Badik, an evil dragon, steals an ancient archer's ring, killing Scirye's sister and Leech's protector in the process. Recognizing Badik as an old enemy, Bayang joins forces with the youngsters on a quest for revenge. Together, they follow Badik and his master Roland, an internationally famous entrepreneur, to Hawaii, where Roland is corrupting natural forces to build a volcanic island. Developing solidarity as they confront escalating dangers, the five team up with Pele, the Hawaiian goddess of volcanoes. Yep's varied human, animal, and mythic cast is reminiscent of those found in Lewis Carroll and L. Frank Baum. Readers who follow the diverse protagonists as they come to understand and love one another as family will be eager to follow their adventures into the next volume.—Margaret A. Chang, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, North Adams
Set in an alternate 1941 in which there's no world war and humans share the world with hordes of imps, trolls, shapechangers, gods and every other type of creature that Yep can conjure from world mythology, this opener to a planned City Trilogy pits a squad of unlikely allies against bad guys with a shadowy but ominous agenda. Banding together after surviving an evil dragon's smash-and-grab theft of an ancient artifact from a San Francisco museum, young orphan Leech joins belligerent preteen aristocrat Scirye, along with Bayang (a dragon in disguise) and two other nonhuman sidekicks in a long chase to Hawaii-where, with help from the volcano goddess Pele, they barely escape a tsunami-sized trap as the villains wing away with a second artifact. The chase goes on, heading for the icy North. The author's consistent habit of freezing attacks for exchanges of threats or banter turns most of the action scenes into leisurely set pieces, but such scenes follow one another in quick succession in this plot-driven tale, and the cast is as engaging as it is diverse. (afterword, bibliography) (Fantasy. 10-12)
Read an Excerpt
Angrily, Scirye chased after the brown-haired boy who had stopped in front of the shattered case with the throwing stars. “This is no place for you,” she ordered, pulling at Leech’s arm. “You’ll just get in the way.”
“Playtime’s over,” Leech snapped at her, “so take your costume and get lost. Leave this to people who know how to fight.”
The boy was holding one of the stars like a spiked baseball.
Scirye gave a snort of disgust. “You don’t even know how to use one of those,” she snapped and plucked one from the half-dozen in his other hand. “You hold it by the tip.” She held up the star between her index finger and thumb as her sister had shown her. She had done well in practice, but she wondered how she would be in real combat.
Leech’s face grew stormy as he snatched it back. He looked if he were going to argue, but froze when the dragon’s laugh echoed around the dome like the rumbling of an avalanche.
The dragon’s scar twisted his smile into a menacing leer as he leaned downward. “Do you really think any of you can stop me?”
—From City of Fire