For two years, Cyrus and Antigone Smith have run a sagging roadside motel with their older brother, Daniel. Nothing ever seems to happen. Then a strange old man with bone tattoos arrives, demanding a specific room.
Less than 24 hours later, the old man is dead. The motel has burned, and Daniel is missing. And Cyrus and Antigone are kneeling in a crowded hall, swearing an oath to an order of explorers who have long served as caretakers of the world's secrets, keepers of powerful relics from lost civilizations, and jailers to unkillable criminals who have terrorized the world for millennia.
N. D. Wilson, author of Leepike Ridge and 100 Cupboards, returns with an imagination-capturing adventure that inventively combines the contemporary and the legendary.
©2011 Listening Library (P)2011 N.D. Wilson
This book was a great listen. N.D. Wilson is one of the best young adult fiction writers and his new series is off to a fantastic start. All of the characters are interesting and it's fun to find out more about each one as the story unfolds. The storyline is really good -- the momentum builds quickly. I'm really looking forward to the next book in this series.
I really wanted to like this book. I heard the author give an interview and I was excited to read a book about how the real world can be magical and how children have to take responsibility for their own learning so that they can participate in battling the world's evils. But instead the main characters keep waiting for adults and other Order members to take care of them, teach them, feed them, solve their problems for them. And the "real-life" villans sound nothing like the ones I'm familiar with. Rather than political despots and child abusers I was expecting, these 2-dimensional villans heave fireballs, steal dragon's teeth, and intrude telepathically into people's minds seemingly without motive. The description of place is also lacking. I keep finding myself imagining the scenes taking place in the dark.
This story seems to borrow from a dozen different successful children's adventure stories--some of the borrowing is not even subtle: many of the names are taken right out of the pages of Treasure Island. It is the story of orphaned youths who find themselves to be the heirs of some estate they knew nothing about, mixed with a secret society that trains their members in exotic arts, and a "bad guy that everyone fears and who has a family history with the heroes. . . .
BUT....It's good. The characters are engaging, the wordcraft excellent, the conflicts compelling, and the world enchanting.
I kept expecting the story to go somewhere "cheesy," but I was pleasantly surprised. Some elements were predictable but no more than a YA story should be.
I really enjoyed this one, and I plan to read the next in the series.
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