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The Dragon Lantern
(A League of Seven #2)
by Alan Gratz
Starscape, $17.99, 333 pp
Published: June 2015

I’m reluctant to review this book, the second in the League of Seven novels, without having read the first.  The three young heroes returning from the first book are so intriguing that I feel the absolute need to go back and find out how the friends met and became a team. 

There have been various Leagues of Seven throughout the past thousand years consisting of: The Chief (with his dog), the Judge, the Warrior, the Scholar, the Trickster, the Tinker, and the Strongman.  Archie, Hachi, and Fergus are the first three members of the current League of Seven.  The kids work for the Septemberist Society, a group whose mission is to hide the existence of the Mangleborn (giant monsters who have been sleeping underground for a thousand years) from the people of the United Nations of America and to raise and protect the next generation of the League of Seven.

This wonderful alternate-history tale begins with Archi, Hachi, and Fergus 20,000 feet in the air, scaling the sides of the giant helium balloon that holds the city of Cahokia in the Clouds.  They were on a top secret, super-dangerous mission to retrieve the Dragon Lantern by order of Mrs. Moffett of the Septemberist Society.  After successfully retrieving it, the mysterious artifact is stolen right out of Archie’s hands by an imposter posing as Mrs. Moffett.  Archie and his faithful robot servant Mr. Tic Toc are off to bring it safely back.

Meanwhile, Hachi gets a lead on the head of a group who killed her father and 99 other people when Hachi was just an infant.  She’s devoted her life to finding out who they were and why they murdered 100 people.  She and Fergus leave immediately for a strange, zombi-filled New Orleans.  

It is Archie’s mission again to retrieve the Dragon Lantern.  Archie sets out with the United Nations cavalry.  He discovers that Mrs. Moffett is not who she first appeared to be when she wipes out the entire cavalry using the lantern as a weapon.  Along the way he teams up with Clyde, a boy who is the only surviving member of the cavalry, and Buster (a giant steam-powered man who thinks he’s a puppy), Kitsune the fox girl, and Sings-In-The-Night.  This new team of steam punk super hero kids are led on a race across the country to try keep Mrs. Moffett from using the Lantern again. 

This novel is written for middle-school-aged readers, but this grandmother thoroughly enjoyed the historical facts and real people mixed with the fictional characters and alternate outcomes.  I’m looking forward to reading the next in the series (as well as going back to read the first)! ~~ Marie Davis

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