Jennifer Scales is just like any other fourteen-year-old girl. She's going through some...changes. But it's all normal, right?
Not exactly. In JENNIFER SCALES AND THE ANCIENT FURNACE (don't let the title keep you away; it's not what it sounds like), Jennifer's parents tell her some...surprising news. She's going to be changing a lot more than most people do at her age. In fact, she's going to be getting scales, horns, and claws--at least some of the time. Jennifer is a weredragon, from her dad's side of the family (her mom never has a tail the way Jennifer and her father do), and her parents waited to tell her until the day of her first morph. Whenever there's a crescent moon, Jennifer, her father, her grandfather, and so many other seemingly normal people turn into dragons.
That gives Jennifer a lot to deal with. She's got her friends (who she can't tell), school, and, well, being a fourteen-year-old girl. She's got to put her life on hold, though, when she goes to her grandfather's farm to become a dragon, and learn the skills she needs for that (at first, even standing up is hard!). Jennifer (and all weredragons) also has some ancient enemies, though: beaststalkers (humans with the power to hunt weredragons) and werearachnids (people who turn into giant spiders every crescent moon). As if starting high school wouldn't be hard enough!
JENNIFER SCALES AND THE ANCIENT FURNACE is a fast-paced story that I read all in one sitting! The writing isn't particularly remarkable, but it's simple enough to keep the reader focused on the story. The characters all seem pretty realistic, if a bit removed from the narrative. The idea is pretty original--a great spin-off of the less original, and more often written about, idea of werewolves. MaryJanice Davidson and Anthony Alongi's writing allows the reader to easily suspend disbelief, and every bit of the story seems as if it could be happening right now, despite what common sense tells us.
This is a fantastic and unique young adult fantasy novel that every fantasy fan (and perhaps those new to fantasy) should read! If you do, you'll certainly want to pick up the next book in the series, JENNIFER SCALES AND THE MESSENGER OF LIGHT.
Reviewed by: Jocelyn Pearce