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Dragons in the Waters (O'Keefe Family #2)

3.75  ·  Rating Details ·  3,588 Ratings  ·  103 Reviews
Thirteen-year-old Simon Renier has no idea when he boards the M.S. Orion with his cousin Forsyth Phair that their journey to Venezuela will be a dangerous one. His original plan—to return a family heirloom, a portrait of Simon Bolivar, to its rightful place—is sidetracked when cousin Forsyth is found murdered. When the portrait is stolen, all passengers and crew are suspec ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published December 6th 2011 by Square Fish (first published 1976)
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(showing 1-30)
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Nancy Butts
Jul 08, 2013 Nancy Butts rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya
I'm afraid I can't recommend this book, which I find hard to believe L'Engle authored: the writing is so awkward, not like her usual lyrical prose. And the story really dragged for me.

I am re-reading many of Madeleine L'Engle's books, books that I adored as a child and that inspired me in so many ways–to be a writer, among them. I'm not sure I ever read this one, however; and it strikes me not as a YA novel at all, but rather like a Juvenile Book Club version of one the Golden Age British myster
Michael Fitzgerald
I was not especially thrilled with this one. I suppose it's a decent enough mystery, though there were too many loose ends that weren't tied up neatly at the end and there were a lot of things that came out of left field rather than being cleverly set in place by the author. More importantly, the characters that make it part of a series weren't really utilized that well. What was interesting was that this book links (in a tiny but very intentional way) to The Other Side Of The Sun which I wouldn ...more
Trina Talma
So much conversation, so little action. L'Engle obviously reversed the common advice to writers of "Show, don't tell." An incredibly dull read not much saved by the characters.
Katie Fitzgerald
This review also appears on my blog, Read-at-Home Mom.

Dragons in the Waters was published in 1976, three years after A Wind in the Door. Though Poly O’Keefe, her brother Charles, and their father, Dr. O’Keefe, all have a role in the story, the protagonist is a young man named Simon Renier. Simon lives with his aging Aunt Leonis, who took him in after the death of his parents, but at the start of the story, he embarks upon a journey with Forsyth Phair, an apparent long lost cousin. Phair has purc
Jun 14, 2012 Melissa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult
I love L'Engle, she's one of my favorite writers. And most of her novels are quite good. So when I rate this one three stars, really it is in relation to her other works, not that it is actually a mere average book. It simply isn't as good as her other ones.

Dragons in the Waters introduces us to Simon. Having lived with his 90 year old great aunt for several years, Simon has grown used to being poor, but rich in education as she is a very smart lady. But now she's releasing him to go on a trip w
Oct 04, 2013 Andree rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: re-read, 2013
So, I like this one. It's probably 3.5 stars. I've always liked this one.

Upon reread, it did feel a bit like an odd combination of maybe A Swiftly Tilting Planet and Troubling a Star.

It is classic L'Engle, witht he way the elderly are portrayed, the emphasis on healing an entire person, the idea that some people are too naive for the world (althouh, in a rare case that role isn't being played by an Austin or O'Keefe, but by Simon).

I like the cast of characters, though it really felt like there w
Apr 14, 2016 Geoff rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My Recommendation: I wasn’t as enamored with this novel as I was with the Murray series or even The Arm of the Starfish, but it was well written and the ideas L’Engle explores in all of her works are still important today! (There was an entire episode of Archer last season (IMDB link) focusing on fossil fuels vs. renewable energy.) If you enjoy her writing, enjoy thought-provoking fiction or even just find the area between science and religion interesting I would recommend her works.

My Response:
Kaitlin Smith
This book started out waaaay too slowly, but finally picked up towards the end. The O'Keefe Family trilogy seems to be significantly less supernatural than the Wrinkle in Time series.
Christine Locke
Jul 08, 2013 Christine Locke rated it really liked it
Dr. O'Keefe's lab has moved, but he is still doing super-secret research. In addition, his assistance has been requested in the analysis of pollution in a South American bay, and he takes two of his children on the boat trip there: Poly and Charles. For the second volume, our narrator is yet another young man, this one an American southern boy haunted by his family's past. Simon was raised by his grandmother on a pitiful remnant of their family's once fine Southern home, and I was drawn by the d ...more
E. Ce Miller
Simon Renier's introduction to sailing life begins with his unexpected launch into the Atlantic OCean, off the coast of Savannah, Georgia. He is traveling with the suspicious character of his alleged "cousin" Forsyth Phair, who appeared one day essentially out of nowhere, after Simon's aunt advertised the sale of an almost priceless portrait of Simon Bolivar--whom Simon Renier is related to and named after. This unlikely pair are traveling to Venezuela, via a cargo ship, where Cousin Forsyth cla ...more
Jan 22, 2011 Julie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I started checking out Madeleine L'Engle's books out of the library for Alex, and I realized that I really couldn't tell him anything about some of them. This was one, so I decided to re-read it; I think the reason I didn't remember it is that it’s really not one of her better ones. Some of her characters are here: some of the O’Keefes, and Mr. Theo, and Canon Tallis makes an appearance at the end. But the story is mainly about 13-year-old Simon Renier, who has been living in genteel poverty wit ...more
Fraser Coltman
Oct 11, 2013 Fraser Coltman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I recently read a review of a biography of Madeleine L'Engle. Evidently the biographer gave a lot of attention to the "myth" or image of the author, showing that she was not all that she was thought to be by her admirers. If L'Engle were alive today, I suspect that she would laugh and say, "are you surprised?"

In Dragons in the Waters, a murder mystery story set on a ship sailing from Savannah to Venezuela, L'Engle shows that she was well aware of the way that people hide behind masks and even c
Abigail Danfora
Sep 23, 2012 Abigail Danfora rated it it was amazing
I absolutely loved this book! I read Madeleine L'Engle's Time Quintet and one of the Austin Family books before I read this, and liked them very much. However, this is my new favorite of her books! I've always loved her books for their character development (they always seem so real!!), but the characters in Dragons in the Waters were the most amazing of all her characters. They had all the characteristics of normal people. They had pasts, awkward moments, prideful moments, humble moments, smart ...more
Dragons in the Waters doesn't stand out for me quite as much as it should. It's quite different from the others in the chronos and kairos sequences, being a murder mystery and starring Simon Renier, who in many ways lives in the past. Mr. Theo, Canon Tallis, and the O'Keefes make appearances, with Poly and Charles O'Keefe playing the largest roles beside Simon.

Mystery isn't really L'Engle's forte; she's not very good at giving clues to help the reader get the answer as well. (The goal when writi
Kiirsi Hellewell
Mar 19, 2011 Kiirsi Hellewell rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Kids 11 +
I'm sure I must have read this book many years ago, because bits of it were somewhat familiar at times (and I love Madeline L'Engle and always read her books wherever I could find them). It's a good story...though a bit slow at times...and I always love to read more about the O' Keefes (I sure wish we could see more of Calvin and Meg as grown-ups, though). Simon and Aunt Leonis and many of the others are very endearing characters with a lot of depth. There's some beautiful descriptions, and most ...more
Aug 05, 2013 Carolyn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
Very interesting Madeleine L'Engle with a combination of mystery and fantasy written for YA. 13 year old Simon Phair leaves his grandmother to travel with a cousin to Venezuela to take a valuable family heirloom painting of Simon Bolivar to be hung in a Museum there. He and his grandmother have sold their last valuable object to the cousin because they need money to live their simplistic life of extreme poverty in the South.

On board his freighter Simon meets Poly and Charles (of L'Engle's forme
It's a children's novel, and it reads like a children's novel. The characters aren't particularly multifaceted, and the plot is pretty basic. That being said, Madeleine L'Engle deals elegantly with "adult" issues like greed, sex, death, and the meaning of our existence. L'Engle suggests that children are far more capable of dealing with things adults would rather ignore, perhaps an echo of her Christian faith that teaches one must "become as little children" to enter the kingdom of heaven. This ...more
Anne Seebach
Mar 29, 2014 Anne Seebach rated it really liked it
Having been a bit disappointed with the first book in this series, I hesitated to start this one. This time however, I found the characters much more 'present' and involved. Similarly to the first book, the main protagonist of this book (Simon) was rather introspective and inclined to doubt himself. This time however, a number of other characters were much more actively involved, bringing along their own strengths, weaknesses and quirks to enliven the story. The synopsis presented the book as a ...more
Jul 26, 2010 Nori rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Okay, so I have decided to read as many of Madeleine L'Engle's books as many they have in our small library here. I like her imagination at work, because even those books which are in a sort of series, even they could stand alone and be fantastic. And even the genre might change; some are fantastical creatures, some are a murder-mystery, some pure science fiction complete with time travel and such. She is definitely not boring in her writing, and can always surprize you in her plots. Also, her m ...more
Nov 17, 2012 Traci rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
We meet Simon and his Aunt Lenois just before Simon is to board a ship with his long lost cousin. They're supposed to be taking a family painting to a museum overseas and Simon has decided it would be an interesting trip. However, before he even sets foot on board, he is almost killed in a very strange accident but is gracefully saved by a girl named Poly.

Simon quickly becomes friends with Poly and her brother Charles. They spend their days exploring the ship and staying out of trouble. Trouble
April Brown
Feb 03, 2012 April Brown rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pre-teen, fantasy
What ages would I recommend it too? – Eight and up.

Length? – A couple of evening's read.

Characters? – Memorable, several characters.

Setting? – Contemporary with a touch of fantasy.

Written approximately? – 1976.

Does the story leave questions in the readers mind? – Ready to read more.

Any issues the author (or a more recent publisher) should cover? No.

Short storyline: Simon meets Poly and Charles on a boat to deliver a painting to a foreign country. He doesn't know the danger he is caught up in. I
Jul 22, 2015 Jean rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Dragons in the Waters doesn't fit neatly in any one genre. However, if you like mysteries with a touch of fantasy, you, too, will like this book. I watched Simon grow up and learn from his mistakes. Madeleine L'Engle poses interesting questions to ponder: does a hero need to be perfect? What happens when we find feet of clay? What *should* happen?

My favorite quotation: "We believe ... that everything is dependent on everything else, that the Power behind the stars has not made anything to be se
Mar 20, 2013 Karen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kids-lit
I found this in the "throw away" pile at school last week. Really? How could anyone throw away a Madeleine L'Engle book? Since it was one I hadn't read as a kid I gave it a few pages and suddenly I could not put it down. This is a "who-dunnit" with an underlying story of how we all come to terms with our ancestry and who that makes us, with a little bit of "respect others who are not like you thrown in for good measure. Following the second generation of O'Keefes and a few new characters, we tak ...more
Maria Luna
Mar 31, 2012 Maria Luna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a good book so far. I do love Madeline L'engles books because she always has some sort of mystery in her story line and for me she just draws me in. This was an interesting story though, the O'keefes and Simon on the same boat. I felt sad for Simon at first because since he doesn't have a lot of money and he's ling with his grandmother, he had to sell a family heirloom. Along with his cousin Forsyth they board the boat , but the cousin ends up dead and leaves a big mystery for the group ...more
Apryl Anderson
Jul 27, 2011 Apryl Anderson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wasn't L'Engle's husband a soap actor? This story rolled over the waves with action-reaction from start to finish. It was a fun read, with all the drama and half the romance of the soaps.

L'Engle is always impressive with her eye for details and timeless relativity. You know that she's traveled on cargo ships and encountered South American policemen.

It was strange to read this after also reading (ack! what was the title? an Austin story... the daughter travels to Antarctica). There were so many s
Nov 02, 2007 Sallie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: childrensbooks
I read this book in one day and liked it so much more than MOON BY NIGHT. I guess I just like the O'Keefe-Murray family better than the Austins - or Poly better than Vicki at least. My only wish is we'd see more of Meg in these books, and I am majorly disappointed that Charles Wallace is not in any of these books only the time series books. I really want to know what happened to him during the rest of his life. I hope he gets a mention in one or more of the next books in this series at least.
Jun 04, 2009 Jacqueline rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: teen
This was a re-read for me. I did not remember a lot from the first time (20 years ago) though so there was still some intrigue and surprises. Simon Renier is taking a freighter from Charleston to Venezuela with a long lost cousin to donate a family heirloom to a Venezuelan museum. As is typical with the other books in the O'Keefe family series, nearly nothing goes as expected, and Simon's trip ends up being far more of an adventure than he had planned on.

This is a good book and can be enjoyed ev
Catherine Gillespie
Having read so much of her non-fiction, I decided to re-read some of L’Engle’s novels.

I totally enjoyed re-reading these books from an adult perspective. The O’Keefe series of books follows the children of Meg and Calvin from the first four books of the time quintet. This series is less about time but still about science and ethics. They are more like mysteries.

{Read my full review of some L'Engle non-fiction and two of her fiction series here}
May 03, 2011 Besha rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
I loved L’Engle as a kid, primarily because she wrote about magic and didn’t talk down to young adults. I resent the Wrinkle in Time parody, but as an adult I have to acknowledge that she can reach astonishing levels of triteness. This book’s a good example. Native Americans: good. Faceless oil executives: bad. Traditional healing: good. Biomedical model: bad.

On the other hand, it’s pretty progressive for young adult fiction circa 1965. Even if Meg Murry’s given up math to raise seven kids.
Sarah Schneider
Aug 24, 2015 Sarah Schneider rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya
This book was sitting on my shelves with the other L'Engle book I read (and loved) as a child. I thought I had read it before, but as I got into, it I realized I hadn't, which surprised me. My rating is colored by my nostalgic love of the author and the characters. I enjoyed the book and story, but I find I am more critical of the authors penchant to create native peoples that live in an Eden like harmony that is absent in the 'modern world'. Still I can't help but enjoy her brand of Christian m ...more
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Madeleine L'Engle: Dragons in the Water 1 5 Apr 16, 2014 11:18PM  
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Madeleine L'Engle was an American writer best known for her Young Adult fiction, particularly the Newbery Medal-winning A Wrinkle in Time and its sequels A Wind in the Door, A Swiftly Tilting Planet, and Many Waters. Her works reflect her strong interest in modern science: tesseracts, for example, are featured prominently in A Wrinkle in Time, mitochondrial DNA in A Wind in the Door, organ regener ...more
More about Madeleine L'Engle...

Other Books in the Series

O'Keefe Family (4 books)
  • The Arm of the Starfish (O'Keefe Family, #1)
  • A House Like a Lotus (O'Keefe Family, #3)
  • An Acceptable Time (A Wrinkle in Time Quintet, #5)

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“That's a sure way to tell about somebody--the way they play, or don't play, make-believe.” 41 likes
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