A mysterious earthquake catapults the modern-day Riverton family into the fantasy realm of Trimoria, where their latent magical abilities put them in peril from the reigning dark sorcerer.
First-time author Rothman launches the first in a proposed series with the saga of the Riverton family, a seemingly average American household who—along with their faithful cat—are on one of dad’s “edu-taining” vacation trips. While exploring caves in Arizona, a strange earthquake thrusts them into another world. It’s the magic-ridden land of Trimoria, a medieval, feudal town full of dangerous swamps, mysterious forests and ancient rituals. It’s overseen by Azazel, a dangerous warlock who maintains deadly vigilance against any force that might oppose him. The Rivertons find refuge with Trimoria’s sherifflike “First Protector,” a giant of a good guy named Throll, and determine that their presence in this place has granted each of the Rivertons (even the cat) extraordinary powers. One teen son has super-strength, the other can wield energy blasts; dad appears to be an advanced wizard, while mom can heal almost any wound. It seems the family is part of a long-repeated prophecy of newcomers who will overturn Azazel’s despotic reign. Prophecies come rather thick and fast in the plot—lucky encounters and diaries tend to give away much of the game early and prosaically. We learn little of Azazel, the nemesis who had looked to be the most intriguing character; he did a deal with an enticing dark-elf queen centuries ago to gain immortality and power. He almost regrets it. The Rivertons prove to be angst-free, super-competent types who adapt to enchanted life easily, without missing Earth much. A virtuous, outcast ogre rounds out the team. Rothman’s language and description are precise and well-tuned to an adolescent readership, even if much of the mid-portion only lays the groundwork for the prophesized next chapters in the series.
A fair, heroic fantasy for the school-age demographic.