The Great Texas Dragon Race
Published August 1, 2023
About The Great Texas Dragon Race
Wings of Fire meets The Hunger Games in this debut contemporary middle grade fantasy stand-alone about thirteen-year-old Cassidy Drake, who enters the dangerous Great Texas Dragon Race to save her family’s dragon sanctuary.
Thirteen-year-old Cassidy Drake wants nothing more than to race with her best dragon, Ranga, in the annual Great Texas Dragon Race. Her mother was a racing legacy, and growing up on her family’s dragon sanctuary ranch, Cassidy lives and breathes dragons. She knows she could win against the exploitative FireCorp team that cares more about corporate greed than caring for the dragons.
Cassidy is so determined to race that she sneaks out of her house against her father’s wishes and enters the competition. Soon, Cassidy takes to the skies with Ranga across her glorious Lone Star State. But with five grueling tasks ahead of her, dangerous dragon challenges waiting at each one, and more enemies than allies on the course, Cassidy will need to know more than just dragons to survive.
This one got off to a slower start for me because I had a hard time with Cassidy’s attitude. She is very strong and spunky, which I like. But she’s also a bit arrogant, compulsive, and convinced she knows better than anyone else. It was hard not to agree with some of the adults or other kids around her who were telling her to slow down or think things through.
It’s a pretty solid kind of character for middle grade fantasy (see Percy Jackson, for example), but it isn’t my favorite kind of character to read, usually.
Once Cassidy entered the dragon race and met the other contestants, I felt like things smoothed out a bit. She discovers that being part of a team means working together, admitting you’re sometimes wrong, and trusting one another. So, I liked the ways she grew in those scenes and was able to connect with others.
Texas is a part of the south that I’m less connected to, so the parts of the story anchored in Texas culture didn’t necessarily speak to me the way I hoped they would. It’s probably because I’m just better connected to other areas of the south, so it just didn’t have the same resonance that a story set in Georgia or North Carolina would for me.
I still enjoyed the Texas setting, especially the ways in which the different kinds of dragons were described as having adaptations or traits that made them well-suited to the Texas climate and landscape.
The race scenes had a lot of energy and really great stakes. I liked that it wasn’t a straightforward point A to B race, but that it had tasks and riddles, too. That was really cool. I also thought the idea that dragons were working animals and the politics surrounding their rights were a big part of the story. I’ve never seen anything like that before.
All in all, this was a fun, really different book to read. It reminded me a little bit of TOGETHER WE BURN by Isabel Ibañez, except anchored in Texas culture and aimed at middle grade readers.
Recommended for Ages 8 to 12.
Cassidy is white. At least one minor character is Latine. Another is gay.
Profanity/Crude Language Content
Situations of peril. Some violent scenes in which dragons attack the racers and racers sabotage one another.
Some racers are caught giving their dragons an illegal steroid.
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