Dinosaurs fight for survival in book one of this action-packed new middle-grade series. Jurassic Park – from the dinosaurs' point of view!

The last surviving dinosaur kingdoms are waging war.

Eleri is an oryctodromeus, a small dinosaur raised in an underground warren. He dreams of becoming his herd’s storyteller but when he saves an enemy soldier from a pterosaur attack, he is exiled to the Deadlands. To survive this scorched desert full of carnivores, he joins a herd of other young exiles, including a peppy stegosaur, a stoic sauropod, an irritable triceratops … and a mysterious spy. Can five young misfits save their warring kingdoms?

Perfect for fans of Jurassic Park, Skandar and the Unicorn Thief and Dragon Mountain.


Skye Melki-Wegner is an Arts/Law graduate from Melbourne. A lifelong fan of adventure stories, she has been writing since she was old enough to hold a pen.

Over the years, Skye has worked in a wide variety of jobs — from selling popcorn at a cinema to analysing data for a government department. Her favourite job was based in a museum with a dinosaur display, which helped to spark the idea of The Deadlands.

In her spare time, Skye devours a ridiculous amount of chocolate and fantasy literature. Skye’s YA novels include the Chasing the Valley trilogy, Agent Nomad and The Hush. The Deadlands trilogy is her middle grade debut.


This is a wonderful story with lots of action and characters that you will love. Eleri is small, fast and wants to be a storyteller and not a soldier, but he soon realises that courage comes in many forms. A story of friendship, and survival against the odds that readers who love dinosaurs will thoroughly enjoy. Perfect for those in lower secondary.

Lamont Books

…the action is fast-paced and varied, and plot twists are delivered when warring factions and mercenary spies clash. The dinosaurs’ characters are well-developed and distinct…YA fantasy novelist Melki-Wegner has created a comprehensive world and engaging characters for the first book in her Deadlands dinosaur adventure trilogy.


Hunted manages to be both unique in bringing a dinosaur war to middle-grade readers, and familiar—after all, dinosaurs are a popular topic with younger children and there are similar books with dragon wars. The writing is fast-paced, but not too simple, and the characters’ personalities are rich and varied. And while it may be difficult to visualise the different species, their relative sizes, and how they move, the book includes a handy reference with illustrations of each character. The story explores themes of parental pressure, teamwork, the power and importance of story and the importance of finding your own place in the world. More importantly, though, it is an engaging story targeting an audience in which interest in reading begins to lag. It would suit readers 10+, including early teens looking for a fun escape. Hunted, the first in an exciting trilogy, is chock full of adventure and perfect for fans of Wings of Fire, the Dragon Realm series, and the Elemental trilogy.

Reading Time

The Deadlands: Hunted by Skye Melki-Wegner is an action-packed middle grade fantasy novel where dinosaurs are the main characters… The themes of friendship and perseverance in this story reminded me of The Land Before Time and I felt so deeply invested in the adventure. I absolutely loved this story which I believe is suitable for children, teens and adults. I am very excited to read future novels from this series.

Better Reading

The Deadlands: Hunted is a YA book written with middle-graders in mind, but is a page-turner for adults as well. Easy to read, with enchanting characters that are engaging and keep you enthralled with their teamwork during very difficult, unpredictable circumstances and adversity. What if dinosaurs still roamed the world and could also talk and tell the stories of their ancestors? What would their stories be? A must-read for dinosaur and adventure lovers alike. I eagerly await the next book in this Trilogy – what will this herd get up to next?

Better Reading


Aurealis Awards, Best Children’s Long Fiction
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