The Dragon of Cripple Creek by Troy HowellWhy shouldn’t there be dragons in the Wild West? After all, the west had gold and mountains, both good dragon factors. That’s the premise this book is built on. It’s set, though, in the present time. Katlin, aka Kalamity Kat, is crazy about gold. Her family is driving cross country for a new job for her father, leaving her mother behind, comatose in a nursing home. They might be broke, but that doesn’t stop Kat from begging until they stop for a tour at the Mollie Kathleen mine for a tour. There, she falls behind, gets lost, and discovers Ye, an ancient and ailing dragon hiding in the bottom of the mine with his considerable hoard. He’s friendly and eloquent and mostly convinces her to leave the gold behind, as deceased dragons turn into gold. This scene, where he tells her what he needs to regain his health, made my son cry when I told it to him as a bedtime story. Naturally, though, the one little lump of gold that she couldn’t quite part with falls out in front of media cameras when she finds her way out. This leads to a storm threatening to become another gold rush, with lots of pressure on Katlin to reveal the location of the gold in the supposedly played-out mine. In order to protect Ye, Katlin will have to confess the truth to her big brother and gain his support for her plan. There’s a lot of fast action, sadly only a couple of scenes with the dragon, and a whole lot of thinking about ethics. That makes this both fun and surprisingly deep for a book with a premise as light-hearted as dragons in the Wild West.
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