Like The Ugly and Out of This Furnace, Dragon Castle counts as a Slovak novel in English only by a certain sleight of hand on my part. It’s not a translation of a book originally written in Slovak, but it’s the only case I’ve ever found of an English-language fantasy novel explicitly drawing on elements of Slovak folklore and language. Reason enough to honor it here!
That it came from Joseph Bruchac is all the more surprising. This well-known YA author has made his name with a grand catalogue of titles drawing on his Native American heritage, specifically from the Abenaki people. His novel Code Talker tells about the Navajos whose evidently impenetrable language played a major role in World War II espionage. He’s recounted the stories of Squanto, Sacajawea, and Pocahantas as well as animal and mythological folktales, not to mention contemporary stories about young people from Native backgrounds and even a dystopian novel.
It turns out, though, that Bruchac has a Slovak ethnic lineage in addition to his Abenaki one…Read More