by N.M. Browne

Bloomsbury, May, 2004.
Hardcover, 320 pages.
ISBN: 1582348766
Ages Young Adult

Basilisk by N.M. Browne The town of Lunnzia has suffered some kind of major civil war, in which the aristocrats were killed or banished underground and the peasants were sent to live in the cities. The revolution put the tyrant Arkel and his Council of Ten in charge. The Council and their bureaucrats enjoy fine wine and luxuries, while the workers toil ceaselessly and suffer the indignities of communal living. 16 year-old Donna lives Above in Lunnzia and dutifully does her work as a Scribe, while at night she dreams of dragons flying in a clear blue sky. Young Rej lives Below; he also dreams of blue skies and dragons flying free. Below is a dank, maze of tunnels where survival is chancy at best. Through contacts in the Resistance, Rej manages to get Above as a worker to be tutored by Donna. When the two meet, they begin to piece together the mystery of the Dream Dragons, which have brought them to the attention of the vicious Arkel, who believes the dream dragons can be harnessed to bring him great power. Rej and Donna have to grow up very quickly and find a way to stop Arkel's plans to unleash the Dream Dragons to reign death and destruction on the people of the catacombs.

British author N.M. Browne has created a tantalizing new fantasy set against an Orwellian city where workers live only to serve the state, while those in power plot, scheme and live in extravagant luxury. The Basilisk is full of vibrant characters: Donna's gorgeous courtesan mother who now runs the resistance movement; the struggling, stenk-addicted Scrubber and the mutilated Immina are all vividly portrayed. Rej and Donna also shine as individuals in this marvelous story full of adventure, hope and biting social commentary.

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This review was published in the September-October, 2004 of The Internet Writing Journal.

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