Reviews provided by Syndetics
Publishers Weekly Review
In the exciting second installment of Stephens's Books of Beginning trilogy-even stronger than The Emerald Atlas-siblings Kate, Michael, and Emma flee the Edgar Allan Poe Home for Hopeless and Incorrigible Orphans with the evil forces of the Dire Magus at their heels. Fifteen-year-old Kate, carrying the Emerald Atlas she rescued in book one, travels through time to a magical version of 19th-century New York City where she falls for a heroic young man named Rafe, only to discover the dark destiny that awaits him. Younger siblings Michael and Emma, reunited at least momentarily with their eccentric wizard guardian, Dr. Pym, learn they must fly to southernmost South America and beyond to recover the legendary Fire Chronicle. Fans of The Emerald Atlas will find much to love: the adventure-driven plot, a scattering of deliciously scary moments, and Stephens's offbeat take on Tolkienesque dragons, dwarves, and elves ("The boy elves wore stiff-brimmed straw hats. The girl elves twirled parasols on their dainty shoulders. A few of the elves carried wooden tennis rackets") are sure to delight. Ages 8-12. Agent: Simon Lipskar, Writers House. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
School Library Journal Review
Gr 4-7-Fifteen-year-old Kate, almost 13-year-old Michael, and 12-year-old Emma don't know why Dr. Pym sent them back to the dreadful orphanage at the end of The Emerald Atlas (Knopf, 2011), but Kate, who learned to control the power of the Atlas to travel through time, knows they need to leave as soon as possible. In the first chapter of Chronicle, a monstrous Screecher attacks, and Kate lures it into the past at the exact moment Dr. Pym appears to retrieve Michael and Emma. While Kate deals with the Dickensian world of 1899 New York on the eve of Separation, when the magical and mundane worlds will split for good, Michael, Emma, and Pym search for information about the other two books in a variety of unlikely places. This is a roller-coaster ride of a story, which includes old friends and new, a visit to Antarctica, the rescue of an Elf Princess (who is sometimes a dragon), a touch of doomed romance, a generous leavening of humor, life, death, betrayal, and (just a warning) a nasty little cliff-hanger of an ending. It is really Michael's story-he deals with unimaginable challenges with humor, courage, and insight. Knowledge of the first book is suggested; readers who start with this one will definitely want to backtrack. Fans of the first book won't be disappointed, and will eagerly anticipate the next one. The Emerald Atlas was very good. This one is even better.-Mara Alpert, Los Angeles Public Library (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
After saving the town of Cambridge Falls during their adventure in The Emerald Atlas (2011), Kate, Michael, and Emma have little time to enjoy their victory. Caught between warring factions, the children are hidden in a Baltimore orphanage to keep them safe, but they are discovered. While luring their enemies away, Kate finds herself stranded 100 years in the past in a fantastical New York City. Meanwhile, Michael and Emma set off to find the second volume in the Books of Beginning, and their search takes them deep into a dangerous world hidden at the bottom of the earth. The action alternates between Michael's and Kate's compelling stories, and cliff-hanger chapter endings keep the suspense high. Stephens builds on the humor and character development established in the first book, and all three children become more fully realized, especially Kate and Michael. An initial summary introduces the plot to newcomers without slowing down the story for Atlas readers who have been waiting for the adventures to continue. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Fans of the New York Times best-selling Emerald Atlas are already lining up for this sequel.--Rutan, Lynn Copyright 2010 Booklist
Horn Book Review
The adventure begun in The Emerald Atlas (rev. 3/11) is far from over: Kate, Michael, and Emma have found only one of the three prophesied magic Books of Beginning; their parents are still missing; and the evil Dire Magnus and his followers continue to hunt them. Stephens again splits the trio up in this second installment, creating effective interconnected parallel narratives. The Atlas strands Kate in turn-of-the-twentieth-century New York City, where she befriends some magical orphans, including a boy named Rafe whose destiny could affect her familys fate; Michael and Emma travel in the present to Antarctica with their warrior friend, Gabriel, in search of the second book, the Chronicle (a.k.a. the Book of Life). Following a fraught journey that includes a dragon and a fiery volcano, Michael becomes the Keeper of the Chronicle and eventually learns how to properly wield the books powers. After he, Emma, Gabriel, and a group of elves battle the Dire Magnuss army, the books emotional final events and a cliffhanger ending successfully pave the way for a climactic third volume. Stephenss storytelling ability is once again impressive, most notably in the complexity of both good and evil characters and the realistic maturation of the three children. He also enhances his fast-paced, engaging tale with a strong narrative voice, vivid imagery and world-building, numerous plot twists, and subtle touches of humor that lighten this darker but equally fine series entry. cynthia k. ritter (c) Copyright 2012. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kirkus Book Review
Time travel, an Arctic ice shelf and frivolous elves converge in this second installment of The Books of Beginning. Siblings Kate, Michael and Emma were lauded for successfully battling evil in The Emerald Atlas (2011), but soon afterward, their trusted confidant, Dr. Pym, redeposited them in a decrepit orphanage without explanation. After several months, a foreboding black cloud rolls in, catapulting the children into action. Kate escapes to 1899 Manhattan via the previous book's titular atlas, while Michael and Emma are miraculously plucked from danger by Pym. So sets the stage for Kate's mission to rejoin her siblings and for Michael and Emma's journey to a secreted, lush valley in Antarctica to seek a second magic book, the Chronicle. The children aren't strangers to magic, but their awe of magical places, allies and enemies does anything but wane here (it's hard to be ho-hum when entranced by elves, pursued by a dragon and combatting trolls). A third-person-omniscient narration alternates between Kate and Michael, but Michael, the meekest child (and destined keeper of the Chronicle), is the primary focus as he struggles to find a fiery strength within himself. With no rest for the children, the ending is anything but a fading ember as Emma is kidnapped, separating the trio once again and setting the stage for Book 3. Irreverent humor and swashbuckling adventure collide in a fetching fantasy. (Fantasy. 10-14) ]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.