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THE FIRE CHRONICLE by John Stephens Kirkus Star


From the Books of Beginning series, volume 2

by John Stephens

Age Range: 10 - 14

Pub Date: Oct. 9th, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-375-86871-9
Publisher: Knopf

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)