Tuesday, 28 December 2010

John Stephens - The Emarald Atlas - Book Review

                                           book cover of 

The Emerald Atlas 

by

John Stephens

This was one of the most talked about books this year at the Bologna Children's Book Fair - the buzz surrounding this book was hailed as a "Narnia-like" classic. After a fellow blogger got hold of it and gave it a glowing report, I decided I had to try and get a copy in order to read it as soon as possible. I had to know whether this book lived up to the buzz or not . . . . .

The author is the US screenwriter, John Stephens, who has written the first novel in the trilogy known as the 'Books of the Beginning'. This is aimed at the 8-12 age range. However, like all good stories this book appeals to both every one and every age group. It is actually one of those rare books in fantasy fiction that doesn't fly past your bookshelf very often. It's certainly a book that you want to read over and over again and again.

From the start of this book you soon find yourself riding the wave of a fantasy adventure of great proportions.  The story is crafted from magic itself, as you follow three young orphans and their mysterious past from orphanage to orphanage, until one day they find themselves on a train to Cambridge Falls. They arrive at a strange crooked house as the mist rolls in, as they begin to explore their surroundings things start to happen, and happen they really do, through every word that is read. 


The book is full of great ideas, from the very well written section on the Screechers (straight out of Middle Earth) leaving you feeling chilled to the bone, to the evil power-hungry Countess of Cambridge Falls, who needs to posses the magic atlas with all its secrets and untold power. The book has many characters who you genuinely fall in love with. Through the epic battles which are played out, it keeps the readers on their toes, genuinely hoping for the best outcome. It's a great page turner propelled by magic as the prophecy unfolds.


This is one of the best stories that I have had read in this genre for some time. It has a great blend of humour with lots of plot elements to keep the pages being turned rapidly. From one wicked queen and her evil sidekick, to dwarves that live under the mountains and well depicted dark monsters, all of these ingredients make for an enchanted read that will be a classic of the future. It will most definitely be a movie at some point in the future, I believe. It's a really strong debut book as an appetiser for the next book.


The only minor issue with this book is that it's not being published by Doubleday until April 2011 in the U.K and Knopf in the US. Whilst I do apologise for the incredibly early review of this book, I was just far too excited that I needed to share it with you all, instantly!
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