The Pemberton siblings fall into a portal on their grandfather’s property, leading to adventures involving pirates and a mystical world in this first installment of a debut children’s fantasy series.
For 13-year-old Penelope, 11-year-old Jade, and 8-year-old Phillip, staying with their grandfather Chris Pemberton when their parents are away isn’t much fun. The old man is often preoccupied with strange maps, and at one point, he sends the Pemberton siblings to do clearing work on his Colorado desert property. Phillip feels drawn to dig at a particular spot, and the children soon uncover a pirate skeleton, a glowing green pendant, and a well into which they fall. They wash up in a strange new land near a pirate ship; Phillip is taken captive, and the girls are left onshore, where they soon meet Nicholas, a teenager who looks somewhat familiar. He’s looking for his brother, Christophe, and thinks that offering up the girls to pirates Con and Rook will aid his search. Phillip, meanwhile, still has the aforementioned pendant, and with it, he sees visions that turn out to be flashbacks explaining how Rook and Con were shipwrecked in the 1780s and how they connect to the Pemberton family. By novel’s end, the pendant appears to have gone missing, but a new green glow beckons the children from underneath a doorway. In this launch to a planned series, Colorado-based author Knighted confronts the challenge of laying down the groundwork of various worlds and back stories, from which she will build future tales. For the most part, she’s successful at weaving in necessary exposition amid the quite rollicking, entertaining episodes, such as one in which the pirates battle a huge sea monster. There’s also charming character development, particularly for the vengeful, jealous Rook and the caretaking Penelope. Some of the geography, however, is a bit murky—what are the pirates still searching for in those maps, exactly?—but it will hopefully be explained and explored in stories to come.
A complex but promising start to a colorful time-bending adventure.