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J. Michael White
Jestin Kase and the Masters of Dragon Metal
Mankind lost the battle for its soul without knowing. Evil won. And no Chosen Ones are coming to the rescue. Enter Jestin Kase, a foster kid on the run in Chicago. He finds himself drawn into the underbelly of civilization, where the Three Great Schools of Magic are crippled by their own corruption and unable to push back against the Great Dark. Monsters from Babylonian myth, demons, and the enthralled thrive beneath the notice of everyone. Only one force of good remains: an ancient magic called Dragon Metal. And Jestin is determined to learn its secrets. But how much of a difference can one person make in a world that’s already fallen? There’s no fate. No destiny. Only Metal. And those brave enough to wield it.
White tangles Babylonian mythology around a smart-aleck orphan in this whimsical urban fantasy. After burning down his foster home, 15-year-old Jestin Kase is alone and confused on the streets of Chicago. During his previous stint in juvenile detention, he learned that some humans are “soulless pawn[s] of chaos” in thrall to demons, a revelation that’s confirmed when Jestin meets Gideon, an unnerving figure who helps him fight off wolf-like creatures. Along with his partner Father Caleb, Gideon enlists Jestin in their battle to defeat the Three Great Schools of Magic—organizations originally charged with keeping the Great Dark evil at bay but that have succumbed to corruption and are now perverting magic.

The only thing that can stop the darkness from taking over: twelve magic-channeling relics made of Dragon Metals. Gideon trains Jestin to wield the Medal of Sun relic, along with other teenagers, each with a relic of their own, who will all play integral roles in the war against the Great Dark. White’s ambitious mythology involves a menagerie of characters, demons, and relics, enough so that it’s a challenge at times to fight off confusion, but the action is plentiful, and the magical battles spark with cinematic energy and imagination.

White’s epic adventure is sure to please young adult readers who can relate to the teenage protagonists overcoming adversity to serve a common good: “The goal is to build a strong enough network to take down the Three Great Schools, [and] free magic back into the world.” Jestin is a likable character, confident and competent, who works well on a team even when he can’t quite believe the surprising turns, like the alley cat he adopts transforming into a combat-savvy panther. The Babylonian mythology is a pleasant change from genre conventions, and readers will cheer on the uncanny youth in their goal of saving magic from the forces of evil.

Takeaway: YA fantasy fans will enjoy this epic of good and evil’s action-packed and unique Babylonian mythology.

Great for fans of: Tomi Adeyemi’s Children of Blood and Bone, Claire Legrand’s Furyborn.

Production grades
Cover: A
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A-
Marketing copy: A