Orr, Wendy. Dragonfly Song. Pajama Press, 2017. 393 pages. $17.95. ISBN 9781772780378. Ages 10-15. P8Q9
When the first daughter of the Lady of the Island is born with two extra thumbs, the Lady orders the imperfect child abandoned. Through the intervention of the midwife, the baby goes to a family who just lost a child and the girl thrives until raiders kill her adoptive family and take her new mother away, leaving her bereft and mute. Alternately abused and neglected as the bearer of bad luck, the girl grows up at the edge of Bronze Age Mediterranean society where the goddess’s Lady rules, but only under threat of pirate attacks should she refuse to pay tribute for the protection of the nearby Minoan king. The annual tribute is the two best young runners from each island. Though an unnamed slave in the island megaron, the girl learns to use her intellect and skills to become a bull-dancer, surviving the year-long trials, and returning to take her place in the island’s society.
Verdict: Australian author Wendy Orr, author of Nim’s Island, uses her formidable writing skills, poetic prose and narrative poetry to bring this historical fiction to life, juxtaposing the old ways of Crete with the changes brought by the invading Minoans. Highly recommended for middle, high school, and public library collections.
March 2018 review by Jane Cothron