Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Emerald Atlas by John Stephens


Kate, Michael, and Emma have been in one orphanage after another for the last ten years, passed along like lost baggage.

Yet these unwanted children are more remarkable than they could possibly imagine. Ripped from their parents as babies, they are being protected from a horrible evil of devastating power, an evil they know nothing about.

Until now.

Before long, Kate, Michael, and Emma are on a journey to dangerous and secret corners of the world...a journey of allies and enemies, of magic and mayhem. And - if an ancient prophesy is correct - what they do can change history, and it is up to them to set things right.

The Emerald Atlas brims with humor and action as it charts Kate, Michael, and Emma's extraordinary adventures through an unforgettable, enchanted world.

Although I spend a great deal of time reading young adult fiction I have a massive love for younger fiction too. I still re-read The Dark Is Rising series, the Narnia books, Harry Potter and Philip Pullman's Dark Materials books. When I was lucky enough to receive a bunch of arcs at the Random House Book Bloggers Brunch earlier this year it was The Emerald Atlas that drew me in. There's something incredibly exciting starting a new series that promises to transport the reader to a new world. I couldn't wait to get reading and started it on the train journey home.

We find Kate, Michael and Emma at the end of the line as far as orphanages go. They find themselves shipped off to a rambling and decaying house at Cambridge Falls being looked after by a mysterious Dr. Pym. Whilst investigating the house they find a book which transport them to an earlier time where the house, and Cambridge Falls itself, is a very different place.

From the beginning I loved the three main characters. Each one is affected in a slightly different way by the absence of their parents which would be the case given their disparity in age. Kate has the biggest burden, the promise she made to her mother to take care of Michael and Emma which has dragged her down over the years without her even realising it. Michael relies heavily on facts and seemingly useless bits of information. Little Emma is a fighter and used to acting first, often impulsively. Each one changes as the story progresses and the results of their abandonment are themes that I've not seen touched on in quite this way in a story like this before.

I wasn't expecting there to be quite so much humour but there was plenty. I especially loved the woman, obsessed by swans, who visited the orphanage with an idea of adopting them. There are some laugh out loud moments but also some thought-provoking ones. I especially loved the dwarfs and their underground world. As the book drew to a close I was pretty sure I knew what would happen but was happy to be wrong. The Emerald Atlas is a fantastic start of a series. Plenty of questions are yet to be answered and I look forward to the sequel.


Asamum said...

Brilliant review. I wish I had time to read it :D

kirsty at the overflowing library said...

i loved the dwarves too and you are totally right so many laugh out loud moments

Chandrapal said...

after harry potter series this book drew my attention and it's amazing