Monday, July 25, 2011

The Emerald Atlas

The Emerald Atlas
by John Stephens
The Books of Beginning, book one

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. (description from

This book opened with a bang for me...feeling a lot like the beginning of Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events. Three children abandoned to one horrific orphanage after another... three siblings, resourceful and loyal...

Then, there was a slight slow period a few chapters in, but I pushed through and boy am I glad. As the story unfolds, there are such brilliant moments of loyalty, bravery, friendship, and familial love. Stephens builds an interesting and believable fantasy world around three awesome and devoted siblings.

Kate, the oldest, smart, loyal, forgiving and responsible. Michael, the middle sibling, even smarter, obsessed with dwarves, wants nothing more than the safety of his sisters and the chance to see his parents again someday...oh yeah, and if he could meet a dwarf that would make his life complete! Emma, oh Emma...she was my favorite of the bunch! Emma is brave, loyal to a fault, quick to feel any emotion to the fullest, and devoted to her older siblings. Emma's spunkiness was balanced by her emotional growth as she gets separated from Kate and Michael, meets a surrogate father figure, reunites with her family, and realizes she has a true destiny.

The world of The Books of Beginning was really great because, yes there are dwarves, evil monsters, and spirits, but it also felt like our world. It was the best kind of blend of real life and fantastic elements. You could truly believe that these children just stumble upon a town that no longer exists in the real world, but disappeared into a magical mist.

With great time travel twists, The Emerald Atlas starts off a promising new fantasy series. I'm really excited to read the second book. I cannot wait to see how the three children pursue their destiny, hunting for the other Books of Beginning to keep the world safe. It should be an epic journey.

2011 Debut Author Challenge title


  1. I've been meaning to read this one, I keep hearing such great things about it. So glad that you liked it :)

  2. I like the story,From the first chapter, this book keeps you on edge with its mysteries and amazing story telling. Kate, Michael and Emma are three orphanage who's lives are turned upside down from the day they were adopted by Dr. Pym.