Mark of the Dragonfly by Bobbie Shafer
Caleb is twelve years old the day the strange and incredible Professor Thaddeus Myrrdin Slimmerik appears. The Professor and his strange magical pocket watch turn the orphanage upside-down and inside-out and he whisks Caleb away to the land the boy once believed existed only in his imagination and dreams. Caleb discovers he is not who he thinks he is and his future is going be anything but normal.
(Sounds like Harry Potter)
When Caleb Ferguson was about two years old, his father, hid him at Fair Meadow Orphanage to keep him from safe from the evil Shadow Army. Renamed Colin Jones at the orphanage, Caleb spends ten years filled with ten to twelve hour days of hard work, with only meager amounts of disgusting food. Only his dream-filled nights of fairies, leprechauns, and magical knights give his life any joy. After ten years of this life, the boy believes that this is normal for orphans like him.
I love the cover. Let’s take a look inside.
Colin combed his hair and walked to the window. Carriages, buggies and coaches were parked side by side along the drive from the road to the orphanage. As Colin stood looking out, a shiny antique carriage pulled by two sleek, prancing, black horses slowly made its way up the drive and pulled off under a large oak tree. The driver jumped down and opened the door for a plump, gray-haired gentleman with a cane, dressed in elegant clothes, but from an era long, long ago.
Colin watched as the man stepped down, adjusted his coat, and slowly started walking toward the building. Most of the children were in the yard, playing their part in the charade of a happy life. The man leaned heavily on his cane and looked left and right. He paused, pulled a watch from his pocket and consulted it for several seconds before putting it away. He cocked his head to the side as if listening to something, nodded and took off his hat. Suddenly the man raised his head and Colin found himself looking directly into a pair of twinkling blue eyes. He quickly stepped back and when he looked out again, the man had disappeared.
He heard the bell and knew it was the last call for all the children to make their appearance in the yard. Today, Colin was assigned to keep the younger children busy playing and to remind them what to say and what not to say. He hurried downstairs. He didn’t want any of the youngsters to get into trouble. It would mean several days in the dark, dank, basement room for them. He had been there and wanted to protect them from that terror. He wanted his worst enemy, Augusta Nickerby, to be put in that insect ridden, smelly, damp place for a long time…a long, long, time.
Walking out onto the front porch, he could see four young boys, Tobey, Edgar, Sammy and Ben, ages four to six, sitting patiently on the swings. Caring for them was his assignment for the day and, luckily, they were his favorites. They reminded Colin of himself when he was that age—mischievous, rascally, and impish. They were just average little boys, who wanted to have fun, and fun around here was forbidden and those who broke the rules were usually punished severely. Today was different. Today the staff wanted the guests to see the children having a good time and enjoying themselves. After all, it would mean getting rid of some of the troublemakers and they would also make sure that those with no income were adopted out, hopefully to a wealthy contributor.
Well, sounds like a fun YA fantasy, but there’s some passive phrasing, a bit more than I like. Also, and it’s always tough to tell from one excerpt, it feels a little too slow paced for my tastes, but hey, that’s me. Maybe you’ll dig it.