By Cynthia Ayala
Allyson fights acne, not trolls. She plays music and tries to keep her head down as she moves from school to school, dragged around the country by her mother who won’t tell them what they are running from or who’s after them. But when an encounter with trolls, real life, not-in-her-head trolls, Allyson discovers that she’s half-dragon. When a boy from her school goes missing and turns out to be a unicorn, the tables turn and the magical community begins to blame her friend Beth who just happens to be half-troll. Now on the run, the girls hunt down the real monsters to save themselves and those they care about.
Published November 23, 2015, by Curiosity Quills Press, Acne, Asthma, and Other Signs You Might Be Half Dragon by Rena Rocford is a young adult fantasy about what it’s like to discover a hidden part of yourself that turns out to be magical.
This was a fun read. It’s like many books out there who draw on the fantastical to make a coming-of-age story fun and exciting. And it was a run story to read. These two teenagers take a family mustang, a red one, and they take off following the clues that will lead them to the kidnapped unicorns. But there’s more to it. It’s clear that something sinister is going on not just in her small town but around the country.
There are a lot of small bits in the novel that add the level of complexity in the character development. This girl doesn’t have a sense of what it means to have a home or who her father is so the road trip is more than just a rescue attempt, it’s a journey of self-discovery, of finding out about her past, her heritage, and what the meaning of home means. Beth is the same way. She’s a teenager who is raising herself while her father travels around on business trips. Her life is just unhinged as Allyson’s making them both very interesting characters to follow on this journey.
Admittedly, Allyson seems a bit to put together given everything that is going on. She never really freaks out and just wants to hide and on one hand, it makes her a strong female protagonist, but on the other hand, it also doesn’t fit with the journey aspect of the story. That’s the only part that doesn’t fit in the novel.
The story itself is a lot of fun to read. Creatures like Gryphon’s, Unicorns, Dragons, and Trolls (just to name a few) all bring out different aspects of the world and culture, and they give the story so many layers to fall into, drawing the reader into the story. It’s fun and Allyson does grow in the way where she begins to discover who she is and starts to love herself for it. It’s a coming-of-age aspect that Rocford executes very well. All in all, it’s light, not too heavy on the drama, and offers up an adventure anyone searching for something could understand. (★★★☆☆ | B)