The Painted Boy by Charles de LintWhen Jay Li was an 11-year-old kid living in Chicago, the image of a dragon appeared embedded on the skin of his back. The dragon is not a tattoo, it is, rather, an outward sign of Jay's true inner power as a member of the Yellow Dragon Clan. Jay's grandmother Paupau trains the boy for six years, and then turns him loose in the world to find his place in it...or possibly, to die in the attempt.
Jay ends up in a small barrio town in Southern Arizona which is dominated by bandas (gangs). With his new friend Rosalie, his love-interest Anna, a jackalope/girl called Lupita, and a rock band called "Malo Malo", Jay draws on his immature dragon power to drive violence away from town. However, the bandas are not going to leave without a fight.
Fans of the author will welcome this new tale of contemporary magic; newcomers to the genre may be lost among the confusing powers of the animal clans. For a better introduction to DeLint's wonderful alternate-universe, readers may want to explore the recent short-story compilation The Very Best of Charles DeLint.
Recommended for readers ages 14 to adult.