Jay Li has known he was different when a dragon tattoo magically appeared on his back on his 11th birthday. Now 17, Jay is headed from the mean streets of Chicago to the desert of an Arizona border town. Jay discovers that not only is he part of an ancient society called the Yellow Dragon clan, but he is also a dragon himself. He has to navigate the criminal gangs that run the town, avoid run ins with other mystical animal clans, and form new friendships if he is to learn about his new powers and survive the quest he is destined to undertake.
This is a great read for contemporary fantasy fans. It has a well developed lead character, cool powers, and a great setting. The mix of the beauty of the American Southwest with mystical elements is a brilliant choice by De Lint. The mix of criminal gangs and ancient clans of animal shapeshifters also works really well, because the more magical elements are grounded by the real world problems. I especially enjoyed having a cast of Asians and Latinos that are well developed and can show readers a look into other cultures. Like most, Child of Destiny discovers new powers, learns to use them, undertakes a grave and perilous quest books Painted Boy starts a little slow and occasionally covers ground that is too familiar, but the unique setting and cast and De Lint’s skill at writing make this one well worth reading. Fans of the Percy Jackson books (YP FIC RIORDAN) really need to give Painted Boy a look.