• The Emerald Atlas

  • Books of Beginning
  • By: John Stephens
  • Narrated by: Jim Dale
  • Length: 11 hrs and 38 mins
  • 4.4 out of 5 stars (1,816 ratings)

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The Emerald Atlas  By  cover art

The Emerald Atlas

By: John Stephens
Narrated by: Jim Dale
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Editorial reviews

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

Publisher's summary

"A strong . . . trilogy, invoking just a little Harry Potter and Series of Unfortunate Events along the way."—Realms of Fantasy

Siblings Kate, Michael, and Emma have been in one orphanage after another for the last ten 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.

Until now.

Before long, Kate, Michael, and Emma are on a journey through time to dangerous and secret corners of the world . . . a journey of allies and enemies, of magic and mayhem. And—if an ancient prophesy is true—what they do can change history, and it's up to them to set things right.

"A new Narnia for the tween set."—The New York Times

"[A] fast-paced, fully imagined fantasy."—Publishers Weekly

"Echoes of other popular fantasy series, from "Harry Potter" to the "Narnia" books, are easily found, but debut author Stephens has created a new and appealing read . . ."—School Library Journal, Starred Review

©2011 John Stephens (P)2011 Listening Library