No-Name is the despised, cursed child who lives in the shelter of a rock near the Lady's Sanctuary. An outcast mute who has to scavenge for food scraps and flee from those who would beat her, she is loved only by the Lady's cat.
But Aissa and No-Name are one and the same. The kindness of an old wise-woman has seen Aissa defy her fate and now there's a chance that she might live out her destiny. First, however, she will have to reclaim her identity, regain her name and her voice.
Each year, the Bull King claims two thirteen year olds (one boy, one girl) from the island to become bull dancers. If they survive the year, they can return home and the island will be freed from its tribute. No one has managed to return. But if Aissa is selected, this could be her chance to escape her current existence and forge a new life for herself.
Wendy Orr's latest book for middle-grade readers is an epic adventure set in a Bronze Age world. Her descriptions of place and character spring from the page — I could see the story as if it were on a screen playing in my mind. But amidst all the excitement and adrenaline, this is also a heartfelt exploration of what it feels like to be rejected and unloved; of how important it is to be true to ourselves, to really listen to our heart; and of how small acts of kindness have the potential to touch lives in ways we could never imagine.
Slave, wolf killer, snake singer, healer, priestess, bull dancer — Aissa is all of these and more. She is also one of the most memorable characters I've met in a long time.
Title: Dragonfly Song
Author: Wendy Orr
Publisher: Allen & Unwin, $16.99
Publication Date: July 2016
For ages: 9+
Type: Middle Fiction