Monday, December 3, 2018

Review: The Dactyl Hill Squad by Daniel Jose Older


Dactyl Hill SquadDactyl Hill Squad by Daniel José Older
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


It’s 1863 at the Colored Orphan Asylum in New York City. Magdalys Roca is not listening to the matron who insists on caller her by the wrong name. Magdalys only answers to her real name, the way her brother said it, like a song, the brother who’s now fighting in the Union Army.

But the Triceratops is waiting to take her and the other orphan children to the Zanzibar Theater to see the only all-black Shakespearean company in New York perform the Tempest. Magdalys decides she not going to allow the matron’s stubbornness have her miss out.

“It was only a few years ago that New York passed a law granting black citizens the right to dinoride.”

Dinosaurs are everywhere. Iguanodons extinguish lanterns before the dawn. Commuter brachys. Stegosaurs lug supplies and microraptors deliver messages, while most of the trikes and raptors have been sent south to the Confederates.

“Magdalys had no idea why anyone would want to keep her from dinoriding just because of the color of her skin.”

On the way to the theater, Magdalys is surprised when she discovers the dinosaur listened to her. That it can hear her thoughts! But she’s keeping it a secret for now.

A riot breaks out and the theater is torched. Pandemonium in the streets, people are murdered, people Magdalys cares about. She narrowly escapes with her life and a few others. But there are more orphans to save before the Kidnappers Club sends south to be sold into slavery. Magdalys and the others barely escape and soon find friends in Brooklyn who will help them rescue the captured children and stop the worldwide kidnapping ring.

“They weren’t just abandoned orphans anymore — they were part of something.”

What a magnificent and wild ride! True events are written within an alternative historical setting, with maps of early New York City. A fun and absorbing way to learn about history and experience the joy of riding dinosaurs to combat evil.

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