The Emerald Atlas author John Stephens has a Hollywood background, so it’s not surprising that his debut novel feels like a movie in the making, with elements that recall the Harry Potter series and other kid-friendly fantasy epics. It’s to Stephens’ credit, though, that Atlas never comes off like a cash-in or a cheap imitation: It has its own fully realized world and compelling characters, and the familiar aspects of the story serve mainly to place it in an honorable tradition.
The set-up is easily relatable and recognizable: A trio of siblings (Kate, Michael, and Emma) have been left to the fates after the disappearance of their parents, bounced from one comically horrific orphanage to the next. Their latest home, however, is somewhat different: It’s a mystical town that hides some magical secrets, and soon the kids have discovered a mysterious book that transports them back in time. There they face down an evil witch who is holding the town’s residents hostage. Wizards, dwarves, and ancient prophecies all come into play in a story that takes advantage of plenty of well-worn genre tropes.
Narrator Jim Dale handles it all masterfully, with a warm and inviting tone and some highly entertaining voices for the colorful supporting characters. Some of it might be a little too colorful, though, as Dale’s animated voice acting can become a little distracting. Still, he neatly delineates the various players in Stephens’ grand tapestry, and enhances the suspense of the various moments of peril. The book ends, naturally, with the set-up for the next installment of a planned trilogy, but it’s a satisfying enough story on its own. We can only hope for the same for the inevitable movie version. Josh Bell
Kate, Michael, and Emma have been in one orphanage after another for the last 10 years, passed along like lost baggage.
Yet these unwanted children are more remarkable than they could possibly imagine. Ripped from their parents as babies, they are being protected from a horrible evil of devastating power, an evil they know nothing about.
Before long, Kate, Michael, and Emma are on a journey to dangerous and secret corners of the world...a journey of allies and enemies, of magic and mayhem. And - if an ancient prophesy is correct - what they do can change history, and it is up to them to set things right.
The Emerald Atlas brims with humor and action as it charts Kate, Michael, and Emma's extraordinary adventures through an unforgettable, enchanted world.
©2011 John Stephens (P)2011 Listening Library
This is the first book I have read by Stephens. He is an excellent story teller and I shall continue to read his books in this series. Jim Dale is one of the finest narrators, and I have listened to hundreds of audio books. I highly recommend this audio book.
YES!!! Great story, wonderful narration. Did not want it to end!
The entire series 'Books of the Beginning"
No have not listened to any of Jim Dale's other performances. But he does a GREAT JOB of narrating.
Cried at times, Laughed a lot!
GREAT! Entertaining! Loved these books.
Jim Dale brought this book to life in a way that makes every Harry Potter fan proud...
If your a diehard Potter fan like myself than I HIGHLY recommend this series. I was looking so long for a story that made me feel the way Potter made me feel. I thought to myself, Jim Dale was perfect with Potter, why not see what else he has done. which led me here.
Great to listen to, easy to follow and entertaining. I could pick up the story line every time I came back to this book all in all an enjoyable performance. Thrilling but not scary.
He's excellent. The different character's voices were a bit grating at times. Gotta be in the mood, I guess.
I've already seen Harry Potter and this seems to be a Harry Potter wannabe book.
If this is primarily a children's book, I'd be a bit concerned about evil characters telling children, things to the effect: I'm going to make you watch me torture and kill your siblings/parents/friends. I didn't care enough about the characters to feel emotionally connected or concerned. Maybe I am weird, but no, I didn't like it.
My favorite part of this trilogy is the narration and the cleverness of the writing. There are lots of "jibs" and "jabs" back and forth between characters and I really appreciate the underlying sense of humor. This is a great Trilogy for kids and adults. It's roughly "Harry Potter" level material without quite as much dark evil. I really enjoyed this series and the first book was particularly cute.
Jim Dale is my favorite narrator. I listened to all the Harry Potter books and fell in love with Mr. Dale's masterful rendition of the books. The Emerald Atlas seemed like a rip-off of J. K. Rowling's fantastic books. Very disappointing.
Overall loved the story and the character development. I'm a 52 yrs old fart and was still able to enjoy the story. Just goes to show you, with the right attitude we all can all stay young at heart!!! I will listen to the next two books too!!!
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