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 enjoyed the audio version better only because of Jim Dale. He has a way of pulling you into the story so you are no longer a listener, but right there with Kate, Michael and Emma.
There were many memorable moments to the story. One of my favorites was the scene where the children escaped from the Countesses dungeon and slipped through the forest, only to be tracked by the Countesses wolves. You'll have to listen to find out if they escaped!
He switches voices for each character, remains true to that character's voice throughout and adds the proper infliction to the voice when called for. If the story reads, Emma shouted, Dale shouts the words Emma speaks. If the story reads, Michael whispered, barely audible, Dale delivers. He is the master of performers.
Grab your photographs and prepare to embark on a magical journey through the Emerald Atlas.
Well worth the listen. You won't be disappointed!
The narrator/JIm Dale.
Who cares about the donuts etc./ to much extraneous filler. I thought maybe Jim didn't get to choose whether he read this one or not. Maybe he did it as a favor to the author. Definitely not in the Harry Potter, Twilight genre.
Probably not! Just another book with kids saving the day.
His reputation! All of the different character voices. He's so good!
I guess that it has to have one now since the parents are alive but not rescued yet.
I loved Emerald Atlas. Jim Dale ALWAYS does such a wonderful job bringing each character to life. I was instantly drawn to this well written fantasy.
It's a fun listen and the narration is quite good, but it's not as exciting as the Harry Potter books or as complex and interesting as Tolkien.
But, overall it's a safe bet for an enjoyable, if not all that memorable, listen.
Enjoyable listen, not the best ever written but well done and worth the credit. I am a big Jim Dale fan since the Harry Potter books and the only thing I found unusual was that some of the character voices were very similar to the Potter voices:
Dr Pym = Dumbledor, Cavendish = Peeves, Gabriel = Madeye Moody, The Countess = Belatrix and a few more.
I look forward to the next books in the series.
This is definitely for older children, if for kids at all. Why would anyone want stories of death and mayhem and terror to be read to children at all? We had to stop because y 8 year old son was so scared of the content.
The narrator spoke way too fast and the accent made it very difficult for even the adults to follow.
The concept of the books was cool, but the ideas and the murder and word choices was not appropriate for children.
Terrible recommendation and total waste of my money.
I can't wait for book 2! And I always love to hear anything Jim Dale reads. He performs the different characters so well!! Each with a distinctive voice!!!
John Stephens -No
Jim Dale - Yes
I did like Jim Dale's performance
Extremely confusing and difficult to follow
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