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The Emerald Atlas


The Emerald Atlas

The last thing four-year-old Kate remembered of her parents was her mother telling her to take care of her little brother and baby sister. She didn't remember, though, being whisked away in a car shortly after that by a mysterious old gentleman. Nor does she remember the car being attacked or barely escaping the pursuers by flying over a dock into a lake and vanishing into thin air. No, Kate only holds fond memories of her parents, which are sometimes barely enough to keep her calm when she looks back upon the 10 years that followed that mysterious night.

Being shuffled from orphanage to orphanage has taken its toll on now 14-year-old Kate, 12-year Michael and 11-year-old Emma. Being the oldest, Kate has hung dearly to her mother's wish of taking care of her brother and sister. Michael can get lost in his own world, often fantasizing about dwarves or some other world. Emma, the more pugnacious of the siblings, likes to pick fights that Kate usually ends up saving her from. The P siblings --- their last name is P (weird, right?) --- have stuck together through thick and thin, which makes their latest journey even more peculiar. A Dr. Pym has recently adopted them and shipped them off to Cambridge Falls, a place nobody has ever really heard of. And Cambridge Falls ends up being a place none of them ever could have expected.

It all starts when Kate, Michael and Emma are exploring the old orphanage and stumble upon a book. It isn't until Michael places his latest Polaroid picture into the atlas when it all begins. Instantly the three siblings are transported into the past and stumble upon Cambridge Falls' greatest travesty. The Countess, whom they will soon meet, has taken all of the children of Cambridge Falls hostage and is planning on killing them. Not quite sure of what's happening amidst all the chaos, Kate, Michael and Emma quickly put the picture of the orphanage back in the book and are transported back to the present. There's just one little problem: Michael is left in the past!

With Michael stuck in the past and no doubt in harm's way, Kate and Emma seek help from Dr. Pym to return to the past and help their brother and the other children. Dr. Pym reveals the power of the book to transport through time, and soon Kate and Emma plot out a rescue mission. But nothing ever could have prepared them for what they are about to face. The Countess is evil and wants nothing more than to capture the P children and recover the atlas. Evil creatures lurk in the night and threaten at every turn. Above all, Kate, Michael and Emma are going to learn about their mysterious past. Unless they remain united, the very truth may tear them apart.

THE EMERALD ATLAS is a promising start to what is sure to be an epic fantasy trilogy in the same vein as the Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings series. There are wizards, dwarves, magic, secrets, and any and all elements that belong in a good fantasy book. There are enough twists and turns to keep the pages turning, and while some answers are revealed in the end, more and more questions pop up that can only be read about in the next installment. If you've been waiting around for the next best fantasy series, look no further than John Stephens's impressive debut novel.

Reviewed by Benjamin Boche on April 5, 2011

The Emerald Atlas
by John Stephens

  • Publication Date: April 24, 2012
  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Yearling
  • ISBN-10: 037587271X
  • ISBN-13: 9780375872716