Book Review: The Emerald Atlas by John Stephens

Synopsis: Because of the danger, three siblings were taken away from their parents to be hidden somewhere safe. For the next ten years Kate, Michael, and Emma were bounced from orphanage to orphanage until they ended up in Cambridge falls and discovered a magical Emerald Atlas… the very thing that endangered the family all those years ago.

Author: John Stephens is actually in the television business and is connected to Gilmore Girls, Gossip Girl, and The OC. He wrote his first book in secret, known only to his wife, and the novel is now licensed in 35 countries.

Audio Book Reader: Jim Dale is an award-winning narrator, better known as the voice behind Harry Potter audio books.

Product: The audio book came in a box that was covered with land, compasses, and other map-like implements. Overlaying this is a version of the book cover. Inside the box, the ten discs –equalling eleven and a half hours- are similarly green and marked with world globes and markings.

Plot: The story has the usual expectations of orphans in need of a family, children going on an adventure, and fantastical characters, but it is also a tale of magic, mystery, fighting for what’s right, and self-discovery.

Character: Dr Pym is the proprietor of the final “orphanage” the siblings find themselves at. He is an elderly and occasionally befuddled wizard that is reminiscent of Dumbledore in Harry Potter.

Pacing: There was almost always something happening in every scene, even during the moments of inaction there was information being discovered. Everyone from a child to an adult will remain captivated, as there is never a dull moment. As for the pace of the reading, it was an excellent speed for comprehension.

Relationship: There was a lot of love in this book, but not of the romantic sort.  Each of the three main characters, as “orphans”, found an adult figure to look up to and find a parent-figure in. There was also a strong familial vibe between the siblings, showing a solidarity as much as rivalry.

Reading: Jim Dale uses various voices to give the characters additional personality and to help discern who is speaking. At times, some of the characters sounded similar and caused confusion, but that was mostly when two old servants or two children of similar age and gender were conversing. While each chapter title is indicated there was nothing to mark scene changes, so you sometimes had to listen carefully to realize the switch.

Quote: “There is a way. The one we have always known. The children must be allowed to grow up. To fulfill their destiny… So much depends on them.“

The Verdict: I have only started listening to audio books again, it is something I only used to do while ill as a child, but I was impressed by this one. This is a fantastic story for people of all ages; the perfect novel to read to your family at bedtime or to listen to yourself during long road trips. I am looking forward to the remaining two novels in the Books of Beginning trilogy, and might even get them on audio book…

How do you feel about audio books? Did you listen to them as a child, or as a teen, or adult? 

Previous Reviews: The Ship of Lost SoulsHelp Me! 

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Author: JaimeKristal

JaimeKristal is a freelance editor and writer. She started her book review blog "Tales of a Booklover" for the enjoyment of sharing her love of reading.

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