The Mark of the Dragonfly

Book review by
Andrea Beach, Common Sense Media
The Mark of the Dragonfly Book Poster Image
Exciting fantasty adventure with a splash of steampunk.

Parents say

age 11+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 7 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

How a music box works and some of the parts involved watchmaking are mentioned briefly. 

Positive Messages

You have to move forward in life, even if letting go of the past is hard. Don't be scared of who you are. The value of friendship and loyalty is shown.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Heroine Piper, who's 13, models bravery, loyalty, and cleverness. Although she's a bit reckless, she models the ability to do what's needed even if it's hard emotionally or physically. She starts out helping Anna thinking mostly of a monetary reward but quickly learns that there are better, more important, reasons to help someone. Piper and Anna, who's a bit younger, model a sibling-style relationship with Anna hero-worshiping Piper and driving her a little crazy, too. But they're fiercely loyal and devoted to one another. Love interest Gee, who's also 13, models the sterotypical male role of protector and savior. Adults Jeyne and Trimble are supportive and help pick up the pieces.


The heroine and her friends are frequently in enough peril to keep the pages turning at an exciting rate without creating too much tension or dread. Small amounts of blood from injuries are mentioned four or five times, once mentioning the taste of blood in the mouth after being slapped. There are a few physical struggles that are briefly described, and one battle-like description that goes into some detail when bandits attack and try to steal a train's cargo that the heroes are protecting. There are a couple of instances of threatening or brandishing weapons (a knife, a crossbow). The feeling of being choked is briefly described. The slave trade in this fantasy world is mentioned a few times.


A boy's nakedness is mentioned a couple of times, but not described. There's one kiss on the cheek, some hugging, and one incident of hand holding. Piper notices her feelings of attraction to Gee, but doesn't delve into them.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

It's mentioned that adult men chew tobacco, and once the smell of cigar is mentioned. Piper sways "like a drunk man" to demonstrate something. A fictional tranquilizer in powder form is described that paralyzes the victim while they're still conscious.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Mark of the Dragonfly is an exciting fantasy page-turner that's fine for preteens. The excitement comes partly from mild violence: The heroes are frequently in peril, a battle-like confrontation with bandits is described, there are a few physical struggles, a couple of times people are threatened with weapons, and blood is mentioned briefly four or five times. Sexual content is very mild: one kiss on the cheek and once Piper and Gee hold hands.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byerin b. February 12, 2017

Great Book!

Lots of exciting action and great characters. I loved it!
Adult Written bybunny8741 February 25, 2016

Great book!

I am a librarian for an elementary school. I am always looking for books for the "tween" that are not inappropriate for their age. This book is one... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written bynessa07 October 15, 2020

Amazing Book!

This became one of my favorite books. I really wish it was more popular. Really recommend if you like fantasy.
Kid, 9 years old January 26, 2019


I think that the Mark of the Dragonfly is a really good book. It has some really cool plot twists, really amazing personalities, and some scary bad guys. I thin... Continue reading

What's the story?

Orphaned Piper, 13, lives a hardscrabble life in a remote settlement, eking out a living using her knack for machinery repair. She rescues an unconscious girl with a dragonfly tattoo on her arm, which means the girl's protected by the King himself. But when the girl comes to, the only thing she remembers is that she's terrified of the man who comes looking for her claiming to be her father. Piper determines to help Anna escape the mysterious man, recover her memories, and make it home. They stow aboard a freight train heading to the capital and are quickly discovered by the mysterious young security guard. If she can fight off bandits and slavers, and earn the trust of the train's crew, she just might be able to get Anna to safety.

Is it any good?

Jayleigh Johnson makes a thrilling, inventive YA debut with THE MARK OF THE DRAGONFLY​. The fantasy world is richly imagined with convincing detail. The characters are well fleshed out, fully realized, and easy to relate to. She deftly combines elements of steampunk, fantasy creatures, and magical abilities. The adventure is exciting and well plotted to keep the pages turning for a wide range of ages and interests.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Why are fantasy books so popular? Why do we like to escape to other worlds that don't really exist?

  • Piper has always had a knack for fixing machines. What talents do you have? Have you always known about them, or do you remember discovering them at some point?

  • Meteors that land in Piper's world contain items from other worlds. What are meteorites that land on Earth made of? How else are they different from the meteors in The Mark of the Dragonfly?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love fantasy and adventure

Themes & Topics

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