The Mark of the Dragonfly by Jaleigh Johnson was a random read for me – I was browsing the “available now” section of the library’s ebook collection under “young adult + fantasy” and I liked the look of the cover.
Piper is a scrapper – eking out her living by salvaging the remnants left over from the mysterious Meteor showers (that rain both meteors and strange goods). She supplements this meager living with her skills as a Machinist – she has learned to fix mechanics and her skills with machines put food on her table.
Piper’s life changes with one meteor shower. Among the wreckage of a caravan, Piper finds a girl, Anna. Anna can’t remember anything about her life but she wears the intricate Mark of the Dragonfly – a special tattoo that means that she is both from the Dragonfly Territories and under the protection of it’s king.
Piper decides to help this strange girl – even if it means leaving her home and everything (and everyone) she knows.
She and Anna must catch the 401 – a massive old train that weaves its way south, to the Dragonfly Territories. Getting on (without a ticket) is just the first hurdle – and the start of a magical, dangerous, and life-changing adventure.
Piper is a great character. She shows just enough change and growth, and just enough flaws to be realistic. She’s stubborn (VERY stubborn), quick to anger, but a fierce protector of her friends and family. She may be young but she’s a pretty strong character.
Anna is a mystery – a naive but brilliant girl whose memory seems to be returning in odd snatches. She’s bubbly and friendly and super chatty – it’s no mystery why Piper feels so protective about her.
The three main characters from the train (Gee, Trimble and Jeyne) also add flavour and depth to the story. I love the similarities between Gee and Piper – both so prickly on the outside but fiercely loyal and protective once they’ve claimed something as their own. I would love to read more about the whole crew – I hope that more books are forthcoming.
This is probably more of a middle-grade / tween book than a teen / young adult book, but for it’s genre I thought it was a fantastic mix of steampunk, magic, and science fiction all rolled into one. It’s a fast read and pretty light – but still enjoyable. It moves fast but there’s enough background that it doesn’t just skip from action scene to action scene with no plot or glue to hold it together.
I’ll give it a 4/5 – quite a pleasant book to pick up and just what I was looking for!