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 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?
Jim Dale is my favorite narrator. I fell in love with him as a little girl watching Pete's Dragon. Doc Terminus was awesome! (What can I say, I started my bad boy phase at 4 years old.) I will buy any book that he narrates, and I have not been disappointed yet!
This book was an unexpected surprise. It was unique, interesting, exciting and kept me guessing the entire time. When it was over I was revved up and ready for the next book in the series, only to find it was not due out for quite some time.
If you enjoy big, bold, magical adventures (not to mention the soothing voice of the audio-book master, Jim Dale) give this book a shot. I don't think you will be disappointed!
Jim Dale is truly a master storyteller. This book along with his fabulous performance sucks you in and holds you until the end. I can't wait for the next book in this series!
Like harry potter
The three children were very likable.
We got this book because we missed hearing Jim dale. he is one of the best readers we have ever had the pleasure of listening to.
The book keeps the reader wanting to keep going.
Great book for 10 YEAR OLDS AND UP
Good Story as always Jim Dale is an excellent story teller.
It was suspensful - Kept my interest
I am a travel listener to and from work. I go through 100-125 books a year
I thought the story could of been a bit stronger. The book made you want more so I hope they add more details in the next one. Could of done without the first 2 or 3 chapters.
The christmas party was the most interesting part. The very beginning of the book was least
Yes I can listen to anything Jim Dale I believe. But his performance with Harry Potter is the best.
I hadn't heard of this book but the sample got me interested enough to buy it. There's an unexpected twist to this story of young people -- subjected to adult decisions without reason or explanation -- that I found endearing. I hope Stephens will continue this series.
that it was such a fun kids book for the whole family to listen to
not realy because it's a fantasy novel
It wasn't bad it's just that since he narrorated Harry Potter I can't imagine him doig anythig else.
please excuse any spelling/grammer errors im kinda in a rush
This isn't the kind of book I normally read, but somehow it caught my eye, and I'm glad it did. I enjoyed the humor of the childrens' relationships with each other, knowing that they loved each other deeply. I thought th narrator was perfect for this book.
It's the kind of book you listen to over and over again, just because it's so well done.
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