While I was reading this latest Self Pub book, I had a realization: I’ve never read a book set in Canada. I’ve read books in Canada, I’ve read books aboot Canadians, I’ve watched movies based on books that are filmed in Canada but pretend to be somewhere else. Just never any books that actually take place in America’s Northern Neighbor.

That changed when I read (let me take a breath before typing out the full name) S. S. Huber The Dragon’s Eye Crystal (Song of the Dragon Book 1) by Bernadine D. Morris. I think the title is supposed to be S. S. Huber, but that part was a little unclear.

By the way, the cover art by Aaron Parrott is absolutely gorgeous. It definitely caught my eye while running through the endless list of books on Amazon.

One more thing before getting into the actual review. Based on the character’s age, I believe the book is intended as a middle grade book, but it’s so hard to tell these days what’s supposed to be what. The fantastic Lockwood & Co is more YA than many YA books, but it’s still classified as Middle Grade. So whatever. I’m checking the Middle Grade box.

The Mile High Summary

Sybil Huber gets flushed down Spoon Lake to find herself in the 5th Dimension. Some cool stuff happens here, including finding her long lost brother Simon. Then they skip through other Dimensions and times, facing various obstacles before ultimately finding this Dragon Crystal mentioned in the title. This makes things good. Happy ending ensues.

My Thoughts

The first half of this book seems like a standard portal book (think Chronicles of Narnia, but with Canadians). Then, near the halfway point, things get. . .weird. I never once thought that the author was making this up as she went, so I’m fairly sure she planned this whole strange story arch out in advance, but it took some twists and turns that were thrown so far from left field that it might have come from the baseball stadium in the next town over.

That’s not to say that it was bad. I like weird worlds. Near the end, though, it took one too many leaps for me. I don’t want to get spoilery on anyone, but it was the time traveling part that just didn’t land for me.

Another thing that just isn’t my style is the 3rd Person Omnipotent. I know a lot of that is just about what’s popular in today’s writing, but I find jumping around from headspace to headspace not just jarring, but weakening the drama. Had the narrative been cut down to a third person limited from Sybil’s point of view, it would have been a much tighter tale. Plus it would have cut out the unnecessary side trips down the thoughts of a fifth string character who never shows up again. Some of the jump outs work–the police officer at the beginning comes to mind–but hearing the thoughts of everyone the characters bump into just isn’t in vogue anymore.

I must also mention the whole praising the Universe. I know that’s a thing, but I’ve just never been one to find comfort in a nearly endless expanse of space where balls of gas and specs of rocks are literally a rounding error. I’m all for making up deities in Sci Fi and fantasy books, but having Virtual Nothingness as a caring deity seems less believable than oxygen actually consisting of tiny trolls that run into your lungs with invisible nutrients for your body.

(FYI, if you want to write a book about Oxygen Trolls, just make sure to credit me for the idea)

Finally, the whole Dragon’s Eye Crystal gets mentioned somewhere around 80% of the way through the book. Maybe 85%. It didn’t feel like their ultimate quest. It should have been hinted at earlier. Or maybe hinted at stronger for dumb dumbs like me that don’t catch subtly very well.

Titillating Tropes

Well, it is a portal book. And there’s a long lost twin. And time travel. The other weird things seemed quite fresh.

Self Pub Setbacks

This is where I get to point out grammar mistakes that the third or four round of edits would have picked up on. This book had two main problems that popped out at me. First, commas.

Just so we’re clear, this is not a Magic School Bus book where they shrink down to cell size (or Oxygen Troll size) to explore the inside of Sybil and discover the virus ravaging her intestines.

There were a few other examples missing commas that changed the meaning, but this one made me laugh.

Next, the author, at least in the beginning, is allergic to the word, “said.” I get it. She didn’t want to pull a Robin Cook and have “said” as every other word on the page. But having Sybil explain, enthuse, elaborate, exclaim, shriek, shout, scold, sneer, snarl, warn, whistle, protest, breathe, groan, jeer, yell, goad, and mutter all within a couple pages of each other, it highlights the voice tags just as much–if not more–than throwing down “said” like it was on clearance at the Word Store.

Recommendation Level

If you’re looking for a weird fantasy book and don’t mind jumping through brains, this will probably work out for you.

The closest comparison that comes to mind is The Map of Time by Felix Palma. Just like that book, there were parts that I liked, but overall I wasn’t a huge fan of the voice and thought it would be stronger if it was cut down. But if you liked the style (or at least the style of the translation) of The Map of Time, you’ll probably enjoy S. S. Huber The Dragon’s Eye Crystal too.


I picked this up on my still currently free trial of Kindle Unlimited. I’ve gotten otherwise no payment or proceeds for writing this review (except whatever pennies Google Adsense throws my way). I may at some future point get money if you click on that link and buy it, but as of now that’s not the case, because the last time I tried to become an Amazon affiliate I was told that Colorado and Amazon were having too much of a lover’s quarrel to make that work. That may change in the future, though, and I probably won’t update this disclaimer because I’ll have forgotten all about it by then.