Can there be another Harry Potter phenomenon? Can another world that grabs hold of us in such a way be created?
We all know that the Harry Potter series was a phenomenon. It appealed to millions of children and adults, girls and boys. For a decade, the world has talked about the magic it brought into our lives. Magic, dragons, good conquering evil… it has the same ingredients as any good fantasy novel. But what makes Harry Potter such a success is relatability. We can relate to that downtrodden boy under the stairs. We can relate to the wish for power, to rise above our current situations and become better people. And we can relate to wanting magical powers. Because who doesn’t want a wand?
In order for a book to be successful, it has to have relatable characters. Harry Potter is the ultimate relatable character. From downtrodden, abused nobody to the hero, the good guy, the Chosen One. So many of us cast ourselves in the role of hero, or wish that we could. But even Harry is annoying sometimes. Rather than putting us off, making a character somewhat irritating can actually make them more endearing. We’re all annoying; we all have traits that make us less-than-perfect. And so we can relate to Harry in a way that is very real.
Hermione Granger, with her incredible intelligence and utter irreplaceability, is a fantastic female role model. Luna Lovegood, Molly Weasley, Minerva Mcgonagall. There are so many wonderful women in the series, cast in different roles, with the strength and intelligence to influence and persist through dark times.
Whatever else Lord Voldemort is, he’s incredibly fascinating. His past is wrought with mystery, and his rise to power is beautifully dark. And there’s the other, smaller foes along the way – Draco Malfoy, who tries so hard to live up to the expectations of his father, and gets caught up in things too dark for him to handle. Severus Snape, the hidden hero, who seemed as if he was attempting to thwart Harry at every turn. The creation of deep, compelling characters is one of the reasons why the series is so popular.
The hidden mystery of Hogwarts, the idea that there’s more than what we know, and the concept that, if we believe hard enough, we can be just like Harry, is more than enough to grab us and not let go. We all want to escape reality, even just for a moment, and a series of books as absorbing as Harry Potter provides us with that escape.
The final ingredient is the setting. The location of a story can be as important as a character, as it provides so much. The beautiful Hogwarts grounds, breathtaking views, and amazing landscapes all add to the wonder of the story.
Harry Potter is so successful because we’ve all been that little boy in the cupboard under the stairs. Life happens, and it hits us, sometimes without warning. It makes us curl up and watch as the dust settles on our heads. This is another reason why Harry Potteris one of a kind. With the right support and guidance, Harry no longer curls up in the cupboard under the stairs and watches the dust drift down on to his head.
But can there be another Harry phenomenon? Many have tried to recreate the series, and many have failed. The idea isn’t to recreate Harry Potter, but to create another character, another world, that we can grab hold of, and that grabs hold of us.
One book that is making a splash is The Gift of Charms, the first book in The Land of Dragor series. A unique world, full of dragons and magic, with a hint of our world. But how does Yoshiko compare to Harry Potter?
Yoshiko is not dissimilar to Harry, except that he is a dragon. At first, he’s bullied, tormented, and shunned, but with the right mentor – Guya – and extra support – Romao – he rises to glory. Given a great task, Yoshiko has to rise to the challenge, working hard to prove himself. He is, in every sense of the word, the Chosen One.
Set in the magical land of Dragor, where dragons roam and live together in clans, The Gift of Charms allows us to escape from reality, and imagine what it would be like if we stumbled upon such a place. Stories such as this, which allow us a glimpse of the unknown, are what fuel our deepest desire – to believe.
Yoshiko, like Harry, prevails because he has friends who provide him with the support he needs. Amlie is a brave, strong female dragon, who stands up to Igorr, and works harder than most. Yoshiko’s mother, Kiara, is cast in the role of the quietly strong mother – a constant source of kindness and support to our hero. And Guya, not unlike Dumbledore, encourages Yoshiko to be who he is supposed to be, and helps him to unlock the secrets of his power.
There are also grey characters in this story. Igorr, taunted by his father and made to feel as if he isn’t good enough, takes these feelings out on other young dragons, Yoshiko in particular. But he isn’t just a bully; he’s a troubled young dragon, who may have room for redemption. The hint of the evil dragsaurs, perhaps not as extinct as once thought, is enough to draw the reader in, and lays the groundwork for a battle of immense proportions. Good must conquer evil, but people – or dragons – are rarely wholly good or wholly evil. We are all grey characters, but working hard to be the best we can be is a lesson that we can all take to heart.
Other interesting themes are also weaved into Yoshiko’s story. The tension between some of the different clans highlights the importance of recognising and eliminating racism; bullying is something that needs to be addressed and fought; hard work reaps rewards. These lessons are ones that need to be learnt, and are particularly important for children.
It seems to be a great compliment for an author to have their book compared to Harry Potter. The series is hailed as one of the greatest series of all time, and nothing seems to have come close. There are similar books, of course, with those simple, similar themes: good vs evil, being the hero, overcoming your past, and so on. There are many books with strong female characters like Hermione Granger and Molly Weasley, grey, sympathetic characters like Draco Malfoy, and a host of magical creatures. And there are other books set in the real world, with that hint of an underworld, an unknown culture that us mere mortals know nothing about.
We love stories we can immerse ourselves in, and in Yoshiko’s story, Julia Suzuki provides us with that, just as J.K. Rowling did so many years ago. As Rowling said, “no story lives unless someone wants to listen”, so lose yourself in The Land of Dragor, and let it live in you forever.
“A new literary star has been born… Be prepared to be transported to the Land of Dragor and be taken away on a mythical tale along the lines of Harry Potter.”
The Last Word Book Review
“The story is the perfect combination of the worlds of Harry Potter and Spyro and we already can’t wait for the rest of the series.”
Legendarium US Media