Snapdragon Alley

Rated 3.33/5 based on 7 reviews
Ten year old friends Alex and Sapphire discover something strange on the city bus map, a street that existed for only one year. As they set out to solve the mystery, they encounter the possibility of another world, another dimension perhaps, in a vacant lot, but they are not the only ones on the trail. Who will discover the truth, and who will pay the price? Book One of the Dragon City series.
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About Tom Lichtenberg

"Author of curiously engaging novellas. His stories are not driven by action but by mood and metaphysics. His premises often begin with fairly standard, often vaguely science-fiction concepts, but he spins those concepts out into melancholy, thoughtful tales in which he explores the emotion and (often) dislocation that people feel when confronted by something outside their normal experience." - Devon Kappa

Also in Dragon City

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Reviews

Review by: David Gervais on Sep. 25, 2013 : (no rating)
I have read the set, it all comes together in the last book.
The first and last are my favorites.
Recommended
(review of free book)

Review by: Carol on July 03, 2011 :
Interesting world building but not really developed much (maybe more developed in a sequel?). Ending fizzles a little. Kids would like the main characters whose personalities are the highlight of the novella.
(review of free book)

Review by: Mark Stewart on June 07, 2011 :
Great imagination. I'm sure kids will get a buzz out of reading it. Well done.
(review of free book)

Review by: Jimmy on May 24, 2011 :
I found this book to be highly imaginative and fun to read. The only thing that kind of got on my nerves is the outrageous rambunctiousness of Sapphire. The ten year olds’ need for adventure and independence is reminiscent of Stand By Me. The author had me just as needful and demanding as the brothers Alex and Argus to learn mystery of Snapdragon Alley. The involvement of their presumed dead uncle only enriches the story further. Warning, the story ends abruptly, and leaves you hanging and full of wonder and questions, just like the characters. I’m hopeful that the sequel Freak City will shed more light on the subject.
(review of free book)

Review by: Brandy Hunt on Jan. 14, 2011 :
While well written, the characters come across as a little too unbelievable. More character development would have been welcome.
(review of free book)

Review by: Alice V on Jan. 06, 2011 :
Snapdragon Alley is an adventure story of two friends, Alex and Sapphire. The two 5th graders have distinct characteristics: Alex is analytical and determined, he studies the bus maps of several years to pick the best routes for their adventures while Sapphire is a bit pushy and bossy of her friend Alex. Sapphire wants to see everything and anything but she’s flighty and it shows with her erratic decision-making. The story starts a bit slow. In fact I found it hard to believe that the parents of two 5th graders would even let their kids go on a bus all by themselves. It’s dangerous out there and if you’ve ever been on a bus, you know that you get all kinds of walks of life using this mode of public transportation. Another area that was a bit hard for me to swallow was Sapphire’s letter to the map artist because her letter makes her sound older. How many kids do you know use the word “subsequent?” I do like Alex’ little brother Argus. He’s mature for his kindergarten age but you know why: he wants to be like Alex and Sapphire and his parents ignore him.

As for Snapdragon Alley itself, I only wish they went inside but I guess that’s why there’s a part 2 to this story. While Lichtenberg explains what it is and adds to the mystery to this illusive place with the fact that not everyone can see it and uncle Charlie is obsessed with it, you can’t help but want more when you read the ending. Will Argus ever see Snapdragon Alley again? Will the boys ever reunite with uncle Charlie? Will Sapphire ever truly believe that this “other dimension” really exists? I sure hope so because it’s a fun story to read and I look forward to reading
(review of free book)

Review by: Devon Kappa on Nov. 28, 2009 :
Tom Lichtenberg writes curiously engaging novellas, most of which he has now made available here on Smashwords. His stories are not driven by action but by mood and metaphysics. His premises often begin with fairly standard, often vaguely science-fiction concepts: time travel in Time Zone, for example, or mind control in World Weary Avengers. But he spins those concepts out into melancholy, thoughtful tales.

Lichtenberg cares little about the mechanics of the MacGuffins that underlie his stories. Rather, he explores the emotion and (often) dislocation that people feel when confronted by something outside their normal experience. In Somebody Somewhere that "something" is as commonplace (relatively speaking) as a kidnapping and hostage situation; in Time Zone, as noted above, the "something" is as vast an incomprehensible as travel through time. Lichtenberg's characters may adapt to the situation or ignore it, or become totally overwhelmed; but the true story is always in those emotions and responses, rather than the rote turnings of some formulaic plot device. Although Lichtenberg's spare, quiet style could not be more different than H.P. Lovecraft's ornate verbal extravagance, the two share a conceptual interest in exploring how people respond when conventional reality is stripped away.

Lichtenberg's prose in some of his novellas ranges pretty far into the experimental; although I have enjoyed some of these, my admitted preference is for those works that hew a bit closer to a traditional narrative style. My favorite thus far is Snapdragon Alley, the story of young friends who discover a vacant lot at the end of a bus line that, perhaps, is more than it seems.

Lichtenberg's "launching point" for Snapdragon Alley is nothing new (Lichtenberg himself gives away in his back-cover blurb that, in investigating the lot, the children "encounter the possibility of" a gateway to "another dimension"). Nor, despite some interesting narrative quirks along the way, are the bare facts of how the story plays out particularly novel. But Lichtenberg captures beautifully the poetry of what such a gateway might mean to the people who stumble across it, and the emotions it might inspire. There are no loud explosions in Snapdragon Alley, or, indeed, very much overt action at all. But the novella, like much of Lichtenberg's writing, inspires an appreciation of just how vast, mysterious and majestic "reality" is, and that is both a far tougher task and a greater triumph.
(review of free book)

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