Monday, February 10, 2020

The Fire Chronicle

The Fire Chronicle
by John Stephens
Recommended Ages: 11+

Kate, Michael and Emma aren't orphans, but they haven't seen their parents in over a decade. Moving from orphanage to orphanage, they are pursued by a race of creatures they unaffectionately call "screechers," harassed by the minions of an evil sorcerer named Dire Magnus, and menaced by a half-giant named Rourke who seems like what Hagrid might have become if he were bald, Irish and evil. Kate possesses the Emerald Atlas, one of the three Books of Beginning that control all of creation; it enables her to travel through time. A prophecy looms over them all, hinting that they will bring together all three Books. Even with an eccentric wizard (Dr. Pym) and a powerful warrior (Gabriel) devoted to helping them, the kids don't have a moment's peace.

After the screechers' latest attack, Kate has become separated from her younger siblings, going back in time to 1899 – shortly before the magical world went into hiding. In the snowy streets of New York City, she gets entangled with the destiny of a very special boy. Meanwhile, back in the 21st century (ugh, time travel!), Michael and Emma share a hair-raising, tomb-raiding adventure, traverse Antarctic snowfields and steamy jungles, and face such terrifying creatures as the consequences of Michael's betrayal (in their previous adventure) on Emma's heart and mind. And also, a dragon.

So, it's a scary, hazardous adventure for all three kids and many other people besides. The future of the world depends on them, on how they rise to the terrifying occasion and show courage, loyalty and love. Whether they're exploring a picturesque historical period or trespassing in the land of the dead, exposing frauds and traitors or trying to turn the course of history, they're really special kids. Michael doesn't know his own courage. Emma has a knack for trouble but also a touching vulnerability. Kate has been strong for both of them, but now finds herself in heartbreaking danger. And they're mixing it up with dwarves, trolls, elves, and other magical creatures in a battle between good and evil in which, it is hinted, the three siblings may be unwitting pawns of a sinister agenda.

It's hard not to hang on every turn of their fortunes, and to sense dreadful and exciting things to come as Michael becomes master of a Chronicle that knows the heart of every living person – a responsibility that tests his strength to the limit and threatens to overwhelm who he is – and as it becomes clear that Emma is destined to grapple with the awful Book of the Dead.

This is the second book of the "Books of Beginning" trilogy, sandwiched between The Emerald Atlas and The Black Reckoning. Stephens is a TV producer and writer known for his work on Gossip Girl, The O.C., Gilmore Girls and Gotham.

No comments: