Kids grow up so quickly these days—at least they do when they are prophetically linked to magical relics.
When last readers saw the Wibberly children (The Fire Chronicle, 2012), Emma had been kidnapped by the Dire Magnus, and Kate and Michael were left frantic in Antarctica. The Dire Magnus’ malevolent power has since multiplied, and the magical world, complacent in its underestimate of his capability, is ill-prepared. In turn, death, destruction and mounting anxiety breed tension and cultural clashes (namely between elves and dwarves), and Kate and Michael fear they won’t see their sister again. Ultimately, the final Book of Beginning, the Book of Death, must be found before the Dire Magnus locates it, and 12-year-old Emma, the book’s destined Keeper, is the only one who can travel to the world of the dead to retrieve it. Survival isn’t taken for granted in this often grim, bleak landscape of battles, destitution and—as the title implies—death. With over two years having passed since Chronicle, the first sixth of the book serves as a welcome recap (who is Hugo Algernon again?). Emma’s feisty, humorous voice is the most prominent narrative focus here, though as with both previous books, Kate’s perceptive compassion and Michael’s inquisitive practicality share the stage.
This fantasy trilogy closes with both satisfying finality and the realistic, requisite heartbreak that comes with saying goodbye. (Fantasy. 10-14)