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
I really loved this story, which was rightly billed as a new Narnia. The most original and compelling fantasy book I've read in years!
I felt like it was let down by the narration though. The narrator was great at doing different accents, but the differentiation between the three main characters was almost non-existent, and he had a tendency to make them sound extremely whiny. At one point when Michael made a mistake, about 5 people said it and each time the narrator pronounced it "mis-tae-ah-eek" with four syllables. Really irritating. Loved the story though, so I'd recommend buying the book!
A good story is something that makes life feel... enriched by having experienced it.
Jim Dale is a brilliant narrator! !
Very well written story with nonstop action.
Would highly recommend to anyone for a quick read or listen! !
the wizard. because I love wizards.
oh I wish I had listened to him perform the Harry Potter series, but I read them on my own. I can't imagine anyone doing this book better.
No, but it did keep me listening and wanting more.
I hope there's more.
I read a lot. But I listen to books I either would never normally buy or would have a hard time getting through.
The narrator Jim Dale is excellent. Has been my favorite since he did the Harry Potter series. Would listen to this book twenty times.
He is the best narrator ever in my opinion.
This is a good book, read by the wrong narrator. Stephens wrote a good story with strong emotional appeal. The connections the characters have with each other are well thought out and accessible. However, I so strongly disliked his female voices, I had to stop the audiobook and buy the paper copy to scrub my mind of his annoying, airy, oh-so-bored intonation - ESPECIALLY his Kate-voice. And what's with the Brit accent throughout? And the Scottish dwarves? In Baltimore and Massachusetts? Using this narrator made the Potter/Tolkien derivations that much more pronounced.
So, overall, I liked the story (paper copy, not audiobook). Yes, it derived a lot of its themes from the overworked children's fantasy genre, but I enjoyed meeting a character who finds elves annoying and silly (yeah, Michael!)
Immigration lawyer in Kansas City. I like Character driven dramas, fantasy (monsters, magic and witches oh my!) and coming of age stories. Favs include: The Book Thief, The Game of Throne series, Harry Potter Series, Dresden Files, Nightside series, anything by Neil Gaimen, 100 Years of Solitude.
Another fantastic story of hero kids overcoming great odds and discovering that they are extraordinary, after a life of being an outcast. Love stories like this. Another creative and innovative story that kept me listening.
And the narrator is Jim Dale, what more needs to be said. Brilliant beyond what words can describe. he makes each and every character unique and alive. I can't wait to listen to the next book.
Intrigued, definitely want to know what happens next.
I think Jim Dale has a way of weaving magic into mystery or adventure that I might not add myself.
I already have. It was exciting and edge of the seat anticipation.
Dr.Pym, he is the hero actually, yes the kids are too. But where would they be without him.
He defines each character, you always visualize what you think the character will Look like while you are reading, but he gives them a 3D effect. He is one of my favorite narrators. I first loved him in the Harry Potter series.
If you loved C.S. Lewis / Chronicles of Narna and J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter/ you will love the Suspense filled thrill ride of The Emerald Atlas.
I recommended it to several people. My son who is a father of 3 could not put it down.
I loved that I thought the book was ending a couple times and then Stephens "twisted" the plot and kept it going!
Very hard! LOVED so many characters. I guess Emma if I can just choose one! :-)
I loved that he made the characters so unique and personable. Jim Dale always brings the characters to life! Some listeners didn't like that Mr. Dale's voices were British when the kids were born in Baltimore. But I thought it worked well with the fairy tale elements and the over-the-top personalites of the characters.
Why has no one ever heard of Cambridge Falls or the orphanage there?
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