Dragon Keeper

Ashland Creek Press | September 1, 2012

A zookeeper fights to save the animal she loves, even as her own life crumbles around her…

Meg Yancy knows she may be overly attached to Jata, the Komodo dragon that has been in her care since it arrived at the zoo from Indonesia. Jata brings the exotic to Meg’s Minnesotan life: an ancient, predatory history and stories of escaping to freedom. A species that became endangered soon after being discovered, Komodos have a legacy of independence, something that Meg understands all too well. Meg has always been better able to relate to reptiles than to people, from her estranged father to her live-in boyfriend to the veterinarian who is more concerned with his career than with the animals’ lives.

Then one day, Meg makes an amazing discovery. Jata has produced viable eggs—without ever having had a mate. Faced with this rare phenomenon, Meg must now defend Jata’s hatchlings from the scientific, religious, and media forces that converge on the zoo to claim the miracle as their own.

Finally forced to deal with the very people she has avoided for so long, Meg discovers that opening herself up comes with its own complications. And as she fights to save the animal she loves from the consequences of its own miracle, she must learn to accept that in nature, as in life, not everything can be controlled.

Mindy Mejia’s gripping debut novel highlights the perils of captivity and the astonishing ways in which animals evolve.


“I don’t cry very often, but I was in tears…Not only is this an affecting story—and it moves; it’s really fast-paced—but also, [Mindy Mejia] is simply a beautiful writer.”
Mary Ann Grossmann, Twin Cities Pioneer Press

“Mindy Mejia’s The Dragon Keeper is a layered and complex story…In this wonderful debut novel, Mejia captivates her readers with a story in which the fates of an exotic Indonesian dragon and a Minnesotan zookeeper are intertwined. She addresses themes of freedom, independence, wildness versus captivity, and the (im)possibility of any living thing ever being tame. The novel also delicately touches on the issues of ‘miracles’ and nature versus religion…A highly ambitious and complicated debut novel.”
Switchback literary magazine

“Mejia beautifully tackles the subjects of animal captivity, endangered animals, human-animal connections, and even evolution. She manages to eloquently bring these subjects together in a realistic fashion while also unfolding a dramatic story. The amount of research that went into the novel is impressive and keeps the story grounded in science.”
Global Animal