Pages - 417
Published by Doubleday, an imprint of Random House Children's Books in 2011
Book kindly sent by publisher for an honest review.
The girl was shaken awake. Her mother was leaning over her.
'Kate'- her voice was low and urgent - 'listen very closely. I need you to do something for me. I need you to keep your brother and sister safe. Do you understand? I need you to keep Michael and Emma safe.'
The children don't remember much about their parents. All they know is that they were snatched away in the middle of the night. Ten years have since passed and all the children have done is be moved from one children's home to another. When they arrive at Cambridge Falls, they realise that this children's home is extremely different and something strange is definitely going on.
The children discover an old leather book which holds the key to an ancient magical prophecy that takes them on an unpredictable adventure. The lives of the residents of Cambridge Falls are at risk, as well as the town itself. Can the children change the course of history?
This is one of those books that is going to become a rather popular series which I can envisage being made into a series of films. It is an epic fantasy that leads you through a maze of difficulties to reach the end. As you reach the last page, you are left knowing that there is so much more waiting to come. If you enjoy Harry Potter and The Sorcerer's Apprentice, then this series will appeal to you. This is a hefty read with quite a dark atmosphere to it, including some rather gory scenes.
The book reminded me of a ride on a water chute, where you leisurely wind through the valleys, slowly making your way upwards without realising it, taking in the new world that is being set up surrounding you, to reach the top about three quarters of the way through the book and come down in an almighty whoosh, leaving you exhilarated and exhausted by the end and ready to take the journey all over again.
The three main children of the book were very entertaining and I loved to see the typical sibling rivalry and banter occurring between Emma and Michael. I felt like I was watching my own children and wanted to reprimand them and give them time out. Dr Pym is an interesting character, who left me unsure of his true feelings. I couldn't quite work out whether he was good or bad. I am not convinced we haven't read the full story on him yet and we might be surprised to find he isn't as lovely as he comes across.
I found the time travel aspect of this book quite breathtaking and original. John Stephen's made his time travelling methods appear believable to the reader. The book contains quite a lot of flashbacks, which help to bring the story up to day and enlighten us on where the children originally came from. With each flashback, a layer of the story is peeled back to reveal another previously unknown element.
I do have a couple of little gripes about the book. I did feel it could have been shortened a little to make the drama more punchy; I found myself wanting to speed the action up a little. I would have also liked to see a little more depth within some of the secondary characters. However, there is a huge cast of players within the book, so I imagine it would be difficult to make them all in depth.
On the whole, this book is a fantastic read with a breathtaking new world built in it and a whole new method of time travel revealed. A brilliant storyline which has left me looking forward to the continuing journey.