Thomas Byrne thinks he’s taking an after-school job as a library assistant—and instead finds himself saving the world.
Debut author Rosado-Machain’s young-adult adventure weds the always-intriguing tropes of secret societies, youngsters-with-a-mission, arcane training schemes, mentors of questionable reliability and, of course, magic into a series-opener that evokes current favorites from The Mysterious Benedict Society to Percy Jackson yet brings its own take to the table. Teenager Thomas and his grandfather Morgan are in dire need of extra income to eke out Morgan’s pension. An enigmatic help-wanted ad, which looks like gibberish at first sight but resolves itself into plain English at second glance, leads the pair to discover that they are Cyphers, able to understand the written word in any language or alphabet—a talent highly prized by Guardians Inc., a secret society/multinational corporation charged with monitoring the gray area between Technology and Magic for the protection and guidance of humankind. Every 500 years a Promethean Oracle writes an installment of The Book of Concord, which will guide the Guardians through the next half millennium. Naturally, an antagonistic Warmaster (“I know! … Magical creatures love titles like that!”) conspires to get his hands on the Book and subvert humankind to his own nefarious ends. The Warmaster kidnaps Morgan, leaving Thomas—along with a team of walking, talking French gargoyles, an elf or two, an android butler and a Brooklynite bodyguard, as well as Guardian CEO Dr. Franco, librarian Mrs. Pianova and martial-arts goddess Kiran “Killjoy” Khanna (who moonlights as a high school assistant principal)—to interpret the signs leading to the next installment of the Book before the Warmaster plunges the world into another Dark Age. But there may be a double agent within the gates of Guardians, Inc…. Rosado-Machain is particularly skilled at depicting not only the confusion and uncertainty of a teenage boy facing unexpected challenges and a crush on a much older elf, but also delineating his shifting relationships with the adults around him, particularly his grandfather.
Rosado-Machain brings a light, humorous touch to themes of teenage love, loss and betrayal wrapped up in a tasty package of magical coming-of-age.