Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Emerald Atlas by John Stephens

Humans spend a lot of time thinking about the past and the future so perhaps that is why fantasy writers often allow their characters to travel across time. The Emerald Atlas is a book that allows three very special children travel to the past and then armed with knowledge of the awful events that will occur these same children travel further back and successfully alter the course of history – thank goodness.

If you loved Northern Lights, The Wind Singer, Narnia and as a younger reader you also enjoyed The Magic Tree House series then The Emerald Atlas is a book you will devour.

In a scene reminiscent of the opening of The Graveyard book danger arrives in the middle of the night and we learn the lives of these three very young children are in danger. A mysterious stranger arrives to take them away and although she is only four years old Kate understands and will always remember her mother’s final words that she must take care of Michael and Emma her two younger siblings until they are all reunited as a family.

Horrible creatures chase after then as they flea the house and then magically they arrive at an orphanage where they can safely hide.

Our story then does a jump in time and we learn that the lives of these three children have seriously deteriorated with stays in a succession of orphanages each one more harsh and austere than the last. They are now to be sent to yet another orphanage at a remote place called Cambridge Falls. I held my breath as they were taken across the lake as dusk fell and arrived at this huge and empty mansion. The only glimmer of hope comes from the crazy housekeeper who, in spite of her grumbling and ugly surroundings, feeds the children the most scrumptious food they have ever eaten.

All of this is, however, only the beginning. Kate will find the book which we later learn is called The Emerald Atlas, the three children will time travel, they will encounter an evil witch, the Screechers, make some true friends and begin a journey to discover their true destiny. His is the first book of a Trilogy and while it did leave me wanting more there is at least a resolution of sorts at the end of this first installment.

This is a book that all fantasy fans will lovebut it is not for the faint hearted. The Screechers are monstrous and the battle scenes are blood thirsty. You must take a look at the web site which has a wonderful trailer and you can read the first chapter which is a great way to see if this is a book for you! One more thing you might like to know. This book looks huge – but when you open it you will see lovely large printing, white space and generous page borders – all things that I appreciate as a reader.

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