Reviewed by: BigAl
Approximate word count: 75-80,000 words
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“Mindy Mejia is a fiction writer, finance manager, weekend jogger, wife, and mother of two. She writes compelling, plot-driven stories layered over larger societal issues. She lives in St. Paul and is currently working on a murder mystery set in rural southern Minnesota.”
For more, visit Mejia’s website.
“A zookeeper fights to save the animal she loves, even as her own life crumbles around her…
Meg Yancy knows she may be overly attached to Jata, the Komodo dragon that has been in her care since it arrived at the zoo from Indonesia. Jata brings the exotic to Meg’s Minnesotan life: an ancient, predatory history and stories of escaping to freedom. A species that became endangered soon after being discovered, Komodos have a legacy of independence, something that Meg understands all too well. Meg has always been better able to relate to reptiles than to people, from her estranged father to her live-in boyfriend to the veterinarian who is more concerned with his career than with the animals’ lives.
Then one day, Meg makes an amazing discovery. Jata has produced viable eggs—without ever having had a mate. Faced with this rare phenomenon, Meg must now defend Jata’s hatchlings from the scientific, religious, and media forces that converge on the zoo to claim the miracle as their own.
Finally forced to deal with the very people she has avoided for so long, Meg discovers that opening herself up comes with its own complications. And as she fights to save the animal she loves from the consequences of its own miracle, she must learn to accept that in nature, as in life, not everything can be controlled.”
Have you ever known someone who related to animals better than people? I’d bet most of us have. Meg Yancy, the protagonist of The Dragon Keeper, is one of those people. Meg has what for her is the perfect job, working as a Zoo Keeper at the fictional “Zoo of America,” (part of a complex the author has imagined in between the actual Mall of America and the Minnesota River, south of the Minneapolis airport). She works with animals, whom she understands and relates well to, and is able to minimize the need for interactions with people. That changes when events force her to deal with people in order to defend her animals.
The Dragon Keeper has a story that, while classified as a thriller, where you’d expect a character to be at risk, is outside the norm, because the characters most in danger are the animals involved. Meg isn’t lacking in risks, but they aren’t of the life and limb variety. However, there is a lot more going on. A romantic sub-thread, an education about Komodo Dragons, and a subtext that speaks to preserving the environment and evolution, take this further outside of the typical thriller storyline and do so in a good way. Not only is this a fun read, but it’s not one of those books you feel like you’ve read before. Always a plus in my mind.
No significant issues
Rating: **** Four stars