Book #2 of The Books of Beginning picks up six months after book 1. Whatever hopes for happiness siblings Kate, Michael and Emma had staying with Dr. Pym were dashed when they found themselves back in Baltimore at the dreadful Miss Crumley’s orphanage. Dr. Pym felt they’d be safer in an orphanage now that the Dire Magnus knows of their existence and the fact that The Emerald Atlas has been recovered and is now in Kate’s possession. Unfortunately, he and his minions close in on Miss Crumley’s orphanage and the three siblings escape just in time. They are separated however, and Kate finds herself in New York City circa 1900. After a brief reunion with Dr. Pym, Michael and Emma travel with Gabriel to Antarctica in search of The Fire Atlas. Improbably, a volcano has created a lush, tropical oasis in the middle of the barren, sub-arctic terrain. It is here where the chronicle is hidden and guarded by a fierce dragon. The story, told in the third person, alternates between Kate’s attempts to return from New York’s lower east side on the eve of the 1899 “Separation,” the time when the magical folk will disappear from the human world, and Michael and Emma’s journey. Stephen’s storytelling strengthens notably from his strong debut. Fast-paced and filled with humor as well as typical sibling bickering, the three siblings each face unique challenges and mature in believable ways. Michael is fated to be the keeper of the Fire Chronicle. He, least of all, believes that he is ready for such responsibility. Emma continues to irritate as well as endear with her headstrong ways and Kate finds complicated and mysterious romance. There will be tears. The book can stand alone, but for the fullest enjoyment of the world building, it is recommended that new readers begin at The Emerald Atlas. Fans, old and new are left with a cliffhanger and will be breathlessly clamoring for the final installment.
Recommended by: Brenda Kahn, Librarian, New Jersey USA
Michael and Emma have set off to find the second of the Books of Beginning. A series of clues leads them into a hidden world where they must brave harsh polar storms, track down an ancient order of warriors, and confront a dragon! Will Michael and Emma find the legendary book of fire before their sister Kate is lost to them forever? A year has passed since the events of The Emerald Atlas, and Kate, Michael and Emma are back in Baltimore at an orphanage. Kate grows increasingly concerned and tries contacting the guardian, Dr. Stanislaus Pym, a wizard who has been protecting them from the evil clutches of the Dire Magnus, a wizard seeking the three children and the three books known as the Books of the Beginning. When the children are attacked, Kate uses the Emerald Atlas to dispose of one of their attackers. In the mean time, Dr, Pym appears and whisks Michael and Emma away to begin their quest for the second book, The Fire Chronicle. Michael is destined to be the keeper of the chronicle, if he can ever overcome his timidity and his guilt for previously betraying his sisters. While Michael and Emma are at the end of the world in an elf kingdom tackling a dragon and a volcano and the evil forces of the Dire Magnus, Kate is in New York’s Bowery where the Atlas has taken her on a quest of its own. Will the children be able to defeat the Dire Magnus and be reunited with their parents, or will they lose their lives trying? Only book three will provide the answers.
ISBN: 9780375868719 448 pages. Middle Grades 5-8
Recommended by: Alice Cyphers, Librarian, Pennsylvania USA