Growing up reading a fantasy series like Harry Potter set a high bar, and more than several disappointing trips to the library. I would absentmindedly plod through book after book, seeking that elusive combination of fantasy, sophistication and complexity.
Being relatively older, it is still difficult finding something unique and completely different on the market in the fantasy genre. As an aspiring creative writer and amateur artist, the prospect of inspiration in a world of sequels and knockoffs seems even more dim.
I have never been happier to be proven wrong.
James A. Owen’s debut series, The Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica, is my new favorite fantasy series. I picked up Owen’s first book, Here, There Be Dragons, on a whim at the library; now I own the series and constantly reread them.
The official synopsis: “An unusual murder brings together three strangers, John, Jack, and Charles, on a rainy night in London during the first World War. An eccentric little man called Bert tells them that they are now the caretakers of the Imaginarium Geographica — an atlas of all the lands that have ever existed in myth and legend, fable and fairy tale. These lands, Bert claims, can be traveled to in his ship the Indigo Dragon, one of only seven vessels that is able to cross the Frontier between worlds into the Archipelago of Dreams.”
Owen’s writing style is fast paced and enjoyable. Readers of all ages will be swept away by the sheer magnitude and adventure of the story; but I know what you might be thinking: there are dragons in it, and you automatically generate all sorts of assumptions about the plot–and the dragons themseves.
Rest assured, this isn’t that kind of book. There are dragons, but Owen’s true talent revels in the realm of imagination, the Archipelago, encompassing the birthplace of humankind’s fables, legends and myths. King Arthur to Captain Nemo to Peter Pan is here, and did we mention that the Caretakers are actually famous authors? (Just wait until you discover who John, Jack, Charles and Bert really are!) This is perhaps my favorite element of the series; I read way too much and I’ve only scratched the surface. Through it all, the characters realistic, the setting is enchanting, and for a fantasy reader I’ve finally found, as Zadie Smith would say, a series I’m meant to be with.
I want to start reading!
You don’t have to wait! You can read the entire first novel, Here, There Be Dragons online at Simon and Schuster, but this offer ends November 9. There are three more books to the series: The Red Dragon, The Indigo King, and the newly released The Shadow Dragons! Find them at your local bookstore and library, and head on over to Owen’s official site to see if his book tour is coming near you–he will not only autograph your book, but add an illustration as well!