Book Review: The Fire Chronicle by John Stephens

the fire chronicle cover

View from the window seat:
The wizard Stanislaus Pym has hidden Kate, Michael, and Emma in the Edgar Allen Poe Home for Hopeless and Incorrigible Orphans to keep them safe, but all the three children want to do is search for their lost parents. Soon their enemies discover their location, and Kate is thrown into the past alone. While Kate navigates the New York City of a hundred years ago with a boy whose life seems to be mysteriously tied to hers, Michael and Emma must find the second Book of Beginning. The three children fight dangers and draw closer to the magic that could destroy the world.

While The Emerald Atlas focused on Kate’s journey, this book centers around Michael and his journey to becoming the next Keeper of a Book. Like Kate in the first book, Michael grows up in accepting his responsibilities. With Kate in the past, Michael must assume the mantle of being the eldest sibling. He throws himself into protecting Emma, and despairs when things continue to go wrong and Emma is in constant danger. Michael is finally forced to face all the emotions he’s been trying to suppress: his shame at his previous betrayal, his love for his sisters, his desperate need to have his father’s love.

While Michael is the focus of the novel, I enjoyed Kate’s part more. In the New York of the past, Kate meets a boy named Rafe, who has a mysterious fate. I loved Rafe. Despite his dark past, he cares so much about the band of children he looks after and the woman who took him in. He sees the injustice of the non-magical humans towards the magical creatures and it fills him with such anger. I also liked Kate’s part more because we learn about the Dire Magnus and his backstory.

Overall impression:
The Fire Chronicle is another solid fantasy adventure featuring Kate, Michael, and Emma. With a cliffhanger ending and the intriguing nature of Rafe’s role in this story, The Fire Chronicle left me highly anticipating the final novel in this trilogy.

Rating:
8

Note: I received this ARC from the publisher at the 2012 ALA Annual Conference.

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