Ride the Green Dragon (1985) is a standalone fantasy novel. It is set in an old stone house that looks like a castle and has framed posters of circus and carnival scenes.
The Vargen house had been winter quarters for members of a circus and carnival as well as their animals. After a fire, the circus failed and never traveled again. Vargen created a trust fund to provide for his remaining crew and animals.
In this novel, Tracy Wayne is twelve years old going on thirteen. Her father finds old houses to restore and her mother writes romance novels.
Jared Wayne is Tracy's brother. He is younger than Tracy and tends to ignore any statenents that contradicts what he wants to hear. He owns Pooky, a ferret.
Louella Riggs is the housekeeper of the old stone House. She is the daughter of two circus performers, but the circus closed before she could join the support staff. She cooked and managed the house for Vargen and his remaining crew.
Henry Abrams is the son of the former circus giant. He is fairly tall himself, but not as tall as his father. Henry takes care of the grounds and repairs.
Karris is the granddaughter of the carnival fortune teller. She still has the cards given to her by Madam Rosa.
In this story, Tracy's family is looking for a place to spend the night. It is raining hard and no rooms are available. Then a man at the pharmacy tells them about the Vargen house.
Following the directions, they soon find the right road, but almost pass the entrance to the driveway. As they are driving toward the house, Tracy believes that she sees the head of a snake in the bushes.
Tracy has a very vivid imagination and tends to be afraid of shadows. She fears sounds in the darkness and sees movements out of the corner of her eyes. Jared doesn't fear anything or, at least, he doesn't show his fear.
When they reach the house, they are amazed at its appearance. They find Miss Riggs standing at the doorway with a lantern in her hand. As they unload the car, Louella explains that the power is out again from the storm.
Mr. Wayne takes the car around to the stables. Tracy, Jared and their mother wander down the corridor looking at the carvings in the woodwork and viewing the circus and carnival posters. Miss Riggs explains the history of the house.
Louella asks about Pooky, but pays no special attention to him. Yet she seems to understand the nature of ferrets. Apparently Louella has known many animals in her younger years.
The Waynes leave the next day to return home, but Mr. Wayne tells his employer about the house. BJ is very interested. When the teachers go on strike, BJ suggests that the Waynes return to the Vargen house and inspect it more closely.
Karris seems to take an instant dislike of the Waynes on their first meeting. When they move back to the house, she is very upset. She thinks that they are going to evict the current residents.
Tracy and Jared are enrolled in the local school and ride the bus to and from the school. Tracy finds the math teacher to be much harder than she expected. She has no friends at school, but Jared soon makes friends with several local boys.
Things keep happening to the Waynes. Pooky gets loose from his cage and runs around the property. Tracy helps Jared find him inside a locked shed. The ferret has crept through a crack in the wall and won't come out. Henry has Jared go for some raw liver and calms the animal down enough that he comes out for the meat.
Then Tracy and Jared see the shadow of a snake on a shade in the tower. Tracy's scarf is missing and she finds it -- as well as Jared's ball cap -- twisted up and nailed to a branch. They keep hearing the sound of distant music from near the workshop. And Mrs. Wayne discovers that someone has been looking through her manuscript.
They also find a hand of unusual cards with strange animals on them and Tracy finds a copy of one card in her room. Then they see a red glow from the tower room and Jared insists on checking it out. Naturally, Tracy has to go with him.
This tale has much strangeness, but little fantasy until near the end. Karris believes that she is a witch and can foresee the future with her cards, but Tracy tends to deny such abilities. But her own mother begins to sense something strange about the house.
The history of the Vargen family contains more than a little mystery. A large sum of money has disappeared and a family member sailed into the night. And then there is the green dragon and other animals.
Recommended for Norton fans and for anyone else who enjoys tales of spooky happenings, unusual houses, and sensitive young ladies.
-Arthur W. Jordin