Villain Keeper ( The Last Dragon Charmer #1)
This was not quite the book I expected it to be, which was a very good thing. I was expecting something like Thomson's Dark Lord: The Early Years, and thought that Caden would bumble along in Asheville, make some friends, solve a mystery, and then go back to Razzon. Instead, I liked how Asheville was the "Land of Shadows" and Caden's school was housing villains from his kingdom! This gave the book a Harry Potter feeling without having any other elements of that book. The idea of a magical kingdom seeping into our world, instead of characters from our world going right into a magical kingdom, is a fresh one.
Caden manages to hold true to who he is while combating forces beyond his comprehension, but he isn't inflexible. He makes friends with Tito, and accepts that he has to be in a special education class because while he can speak many languages, he can't necessarily read them. His growing friendship with Brynne has a nice mixture of annoyance, especially when she blends in to their new setting better than he does. My favorite line was this one from Brynne (page 196) "The tech is the magic of Asheville, and I'm good at magic."
This book will appeal to a wide range of fantasy readers who enjoy everything from Cornelia Funke to Rick Riordan to Jane Yolen. There's a touch of the medieval world mixed with the realities of foster care, so Caden has to wrestle with jeans that are too long as well as savage Elderdragons! And since he is not sent back to Razzon at the end of the book, we can only hope that there will be a sequel!