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The Emerald Atlas

The Emerald Atlas is a middle grade fantasy novel and the first in The Books of Beginning trilogy by John Stephens.

For ten years Kate, Michael, and Emma have been floating from one orphanage to another – only the faintest memory of their loving parents in Kate’s mind to sustain them.

It had been a snowy Christmas Eve when their mother whispered her goodbyes and asked Kate to look after her two younger siblings. There was a vow of seeing them again. That was ten years ago.

Having taken her promise seriously, Kate has worked hard to make sure she and her siblings are not separated, and are ready to be found by their parents when that time comes. If it ever does.

But after being shipped off yet again as hopeless cases, the siblings find themselves as new residents in an entirely odd new orphanage. First of all, there seems to be no other children. Secondly, the mansion and mountains surrounding it were invisible until they got very close. Third, it doesn’t take long to realize that there’s something magical there.

After finding an emerald colored atlas, the three children are suddenly transported to the past – to a time that this land was ruled by a beautiful but dangerously powerful young woman that was desperately searching for something. With an army of horrifying creatures called Screechers, she uses her abilities to terrorize the town as she hunts for the item.

Kate, Michael, and Emma don’t know how or why they’re here – but they do know that they will take care of each other. Like they always have.

And this time they may need to help others too…

The Emerald Atlas was an admirably good fantasy tale.

I liked the sometimes absurd, adult-friendly humor that John Stephens provided at times. It’s great when middle grade literature can be read by an older set of readers pleasantly.

However, I did feel like the transition into the past was sort of… quick. I liked the story, but I never loved it. It jumped into everything quite fast, which I felt lessened the impact it could have had.

The siblings have a great, loving, relatively realistic relationship – and the mixture of fantasy, magic, and an epic quest to find the “books of beginning” that have great power was interesting.

I really did like it… I just wanted it be funnier, more suspenseful, more exciting… just more.

Perhaps a reread would do it more justice.

Even so, though, I do recommend it for fans of the genre!!


Charlotte said…
I felt kind of meh about this one on first reading, but then I got the sequel, and decided to go back and re-read it, and liked it much, much better second time! (The sequel was good the first time through). I'm not sure why it worked like that for me....
Angie L said…
Hi Charlotte! You know, I really wonder if this would work for me, too. Sometime in the future, maybe once all three books are out, I'd like to do a full re-read. Thanks for the input! :)
I sensed type of meh about this one on first studying, but then I got the follow up, and made the decision to go returning and re-read it, and liked it much, much better second time! (The follow up was excellent initially through). I'm not sure why it proved helpful like that for me....
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