The Emerald Atlas, Books of Beginning
By: John Stephens
Narrated by: Jim Dale
Series: The Books of Beginning, Book 1
Length: 11 hrs and 44 mins
Release date: 04-05-11
Publisher: Listening Library
Genre: Fantasy, Middle Grade (ages 8-10), Siblings
My Rating: 4.25 of 5.0
Kate, Michael, and Emma have been in one orphanage after another for the last 10 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.
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.
©2011 John Stephens (P)2011 Listening Library
In the middle of the night a mother kisses her children goodbye and leaves them to be delivered to an orphanage. Kate is old enough to remember her mother’s message: ‘take care of her brother and sister’. Ten years later the three have gone through numerous orphanages and are shipped off to a last resort orphanage. The building is very strange as it has a dormitory for children but appears to have been closed for years. There is a strange cook/housekeeper, Miss Sallow, and a peculiar handyman, Abraham, but the head of Cambridge Falls, Dr. Pym, is nowhere to be found.
Abraham tells the children not to wonder the halls as they might get lost. He hands them an old photograph and tells them a few broken tales of years past when children lived in the village by the nearby lake. In spite of the warnings, Kate, Michael and Emma begin to explore the mansion, as children will. They discover a dark study and a strange book. Then their adventure begins as they are dropped into a time and place full of magic, greedy, evil witches, dwarves, rumors of treasures and more.
The story pulled me in quickly and moved at a good pace. I enjoyed the characters, the mystery and the danger. The reader knows from the beginning that the children are special and there is a need to protect them. Slowly the events, and characters, such as Dr. Pym and the witch/Countess, begin to reveal the secrets of the children’s abilities and their connection to the book.
Although there is danger and suspense, this is appropriate for middle school children. The fantasy is fun and the plot well developed with twists and turns. I recommend this to readers looking for a lighter, engaging fantasy.
Audio Notes: Jim Dale, of Harry Potter audio fame, is a delightful narrator. I really enjoyed this listening experience.
Source: Audible 2012. This qualifies for 2018 TBR, Audiobook and Alphabet Challenges.