DRAGONFLY by Frederic S. Durbin. Sauk City, WI; Arkham House; 1999. 1st edition hardcover.
As Halloween approaches, strange things are happening in the basement of Uncle Henry s funeral parlor, where 10-year-old Bridget Ann (nicknamed Dragonfly ) lives. Uncle Henry summons his friend Mothkin, a hunter, to investigate. Exploring the basement Mothkin and Dragonfly find the door to a strange underground place they will soon know as Harvest Moon. Here, the evil master Samuel Hain (who takes great pride in having started the black plague) has enslaved the entire population. You ll meet assorted vampires, werewolves, gypsies, Hain s cutthroat henchman, and the ever-present Jolly Jack , Hain s airborne, pumpkin-shaped battle-cruiser, which leaves death and destruction in its wake. This epic fantasy novel, by a new writer, is one of the most delightful, scariest stories we ve read in many years. Dragonfly can be read on several levels as pure entertainment, as a classic adventure yarn, as a conflict between good and evil by people of all ages. REVIEWS "Dragonfly is a wonderfully original,superbly written, totally engaging, action-adventure fantasy epic." -- The Midwest Book Review "Durbin's novel is described as a Halloween fantasy. That conjures the likes of Stephen King and the very darkest depths of human imagination. Not so in Durbin's writing. DRAGONFLY is more aptly a classic, epic action, adventure fantasy, chronicling the struggle between good and evil, with good prevailing. Durbin cleverly explores a world of underground hobgoblins through the eyes of a child who narrates the adventure after having successfully navigated through it. "While Durbin's underworld fantasy is imaginatively dark with gruesome creatures, the novel is illuminated always with the reader's knowledge, from the start, that the innocent child called Dragonfly has not only survived to tell her adventure but has somehow flourished because of it. Durbin's writing is a thoughtful compilation of hope and strength and light and dark, told eloquently and descriptively in the context of a child's imagination. "Durbin writes in pictures, his imagery near cinematography, his narrative acute and full, with subtle distinctions...The quality of Durbin's writing makes it difficult to believe that DRAGONFLY is his first published novel." Marylee Lasswell -- The Breeze-Courier [Taylorville, IL] "To say this is a 'children's book' is somewhat misleading. The heroine, Bridget Ann, called Dragonfly, is a 10 year old girl, but the narration is by herself as an adult, looking back and for the most part writing as an adult. It is a children's book for adults to read, and to adapt as necessary. "Dragonfly lives with her Uncle Henry in his funeral home: her busy, traveling father has no time to share with his child, nor does her equally busy actress mother. Hearing noise in the basement of the home, she descends into the cellar with her uncle's peculiar friend Mothkin, who appears out of the night, a Virgil to her Dante. She finds a completely different world, 'Harvest Moon'. Here it is always shadow, almost monochromatic, and this will not alter. The clock reads only 12 midnight to 3 a.m. on one side, and 7 to 11 p.m. on the other. The characters are, when human shapes, shadowy, angular stick figures and the houses exist at crazy angles. It is all like the expressionistic world of Lyonel Feininger. There are witches, gypsies, werewolves, and the prime villain Samuel Hain, who in the 13th century, helped spread the Black Death, and now, active as ever, is busily polluting waters, to sicken overground people. "Ray Bradbury is an unamed influence, for his literary style, words such as 'moonstruck', which ably turn language to ends greater than the actual words. The heroic names of children's literature, Lewis Carroll and C. S. Lewis are [Dragonfly's] too, the former for passage through looking-glasses, the latter for the wardrobe... "...[Dragonfly] notes ambitiously at the end that this was but the first of more such adventures. They will be fortunate if they are illustrated as aptly and imaginatively as this was, by Jason Van Hollander." Ben Indick -- Ibid
SIGNED by the author. Fine in fine dj.