They were taken from their beds one frozen night, when the world was covered in snow. The silhouette of a tall, thin man has haunted Kate ever since.
Ten years on, Kate, Michael and Emma have grown up in a string of miserable orphanages, and all memories of their parents have faded to a blur. Arriving at Cambridge Falls, the children quickly realise there is something different about this place - and Kate feels sure she has seen the dark, crooked house before.
As they explore, they discover an old, empty leather book. The moment they touch it, an ancient magical prophecy is set irrevocably in motion, and the children are thrown into a dangerous alternate reality of dark enchantments and terrifying monsters. Only they can prevent the terrible event that will ruin Cambridge Falls - and stop the world from falling into complete devastation.
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With more than a nod to J K Rowling and C S Lewis, there are orphans, wicked witches, dwarves and dark magic aplenty in Random House's major new fantasy series, which is getting a big global launch. - The Bookseller
The Emerald Atlas is a magical roller-coaster of a read as three siblings discover an old leather book that unlocks a powerful prophecy and enables them to move through time and different worlds. - The Bookseller
...Bologna's most talked about book. First in a trilogy from US screenwriter John Stephens, it is jam packed with fantasy staples such as dwarves, wizards, orphans and prophecies, and will be backed with a major marketing campaign. - The Bookseller
Ambitious, entertaining, magical and whimsical, this marks a strong beginning to a new trilogy, invoking just a little Harry Potter and Series of Unfortunate Events along the way. - Realms of Fantasy magazine, USA
It's bright and energetic and has some exciting set pieces. - The Guardian
Stephens spins a tightly paced, engaging yarn http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/10/books/review/childrens-books-the-emerald-atlas-by-john-stephens.html?_r=1 - New York Times
A great fantasy quest story, with a good balance in its three central characters, each of whom have flaws to overcome. Kate is so used to taking care of her younger siblings, she finds it difficult to be open and to relinquish control of events. Geeky Michael lacks courage. And feisty Emma is impetuous and pugnacious. The supporting cast are all vivid and eccentric, just as they should be. The goodies show real heroism and the baddies are incorrigible. It's pacy and tense and I loved the rollercoaster feel of it - as one battle is over and you breathe a sigh of relief, another crisis begins. The writing is perfectly judged for the tween market - as a television writer, John Stephens knows how to make things visual, and it's accessible but not too simplistic. Junior fantasy fans are going to love this book. - www.thebookbag.co.uk
'A great story is all in the telling, and in The Emerald Atlas the telling is superb....First-time novelist John Stephens has created a vicarious adventure for children ages 9-15-the first in a trilogy-filled with unexpected twists and marvelously distinct and vivid characters. With exceptional skill, Mr. Stephens weaves the resulting pathos into the children's characters and into their sibling relationships' - Wall Street Journal
With magic, humor and unforgettable characters, John Stephens' remarkable debut novel follows Kate, Michael and Emma as they attempt to outwit the Countess, rescue the children and maybe even save the world in the process. Unanswered questions and two more books to locate ensure a sequel and more robust adventures ahead. - BookPage (US)
The Emerald Atlas kind of encompasses all my firm favourites, His Dark Materials, The Chronicles of Narnia and of course Harry Potter. It was a thrill to read. - Askew's Library Service
The Emerald Atlas is a fantastic start of a series. Plenty of questions are yet to be answered and I look forward to the sequel. - My Favourite Books (myfavouritebooks.blogspot.com)
The book is reminiscent in some ways of C S Lewis and J R Rowling and the excitement and gripping writing will ensure readers are immersed in the story. The book leaves issues undecided and the reader wanting more. - Parents in Touch (www.parentsintouch.co.uk)
It is a fantastical adventure that will appeal to those people who loved Harry Potter, Narnia and Lord of the Rings, with an epic tale, lovable characters and an engaging and fast paced storyline. - Overflowing Library (www.overflowinglibrary.com)
Look out Harry Potter, there's some new kids on the block and they're working a very special brand of magic... it won't disappoint - Stephens' top-notch time-travel thriller has a quirky mixed bag of heroes and villains, a clever and compelling plotline and graphic action sequences that just cry out for the big screen treatment. The Emerald Atlas is a rollicking, rollercoaster adventure from start to finish. Visually exciting, tense, atmospheric, fun and frightening in equal measures, the first of the Books of the Beginning trilogy is shaping up to be the last word in fantasy fiction. - Lythan St Annes Express
It's fairly fast paced, imaginative, scary and magical all at the same time. There's giants and dwarfs, villains and heroes, plenty of action and emotion, and a wonderful story you can easily lose yourself in. - Notes of Life (notesoflife.co.uk)
The Emerald Atlas is first rate fantasy... It is a story full of emotion... The Emerald Atlas is the start of an epic journey about three children who, setting out to save their family, will end up having to save the world. - Armadillo
There really is something for everyone and, although it's a book aimed at children, I found it thoroughly swashbuckling and enjoyable! Our heroes Kate, Michael and Emma are really well written - they are strong as they have had to be in the orphanages and yet they are still children so have the vulnerabilities that children do have. I particularly liked Emma as, while she's only eleven, she's a feisty little firecracker who's willing to put herself in danger for her family and the new friends she meets in the back-in-time world. There are also some fantastic villains in the book - The Countess oozes malice and her army of Screechers put me in mind of Harry Potter's Dementors as they enslave the population of Cambridge Falls int he quest to find the Emerald Atlas. - http://www.ittakesawoman.co.uk/blog/2011/07/09/book-review-the-emerald-atlas-by-john-stephens/
The most endearing aspect of The Emerald Atlas, however is that Stephens makes an actual book the 'magical hardware'. - Irish Examiner
This is an excellent book...this has everything that should make a series like this a big hit. - Lovely Reads
It is definitely worth a read and will be enjoyed by magic loving adults and children. You will enjoy being enveloped in a world of time travel, enchantment, dwarves, wizards, witches and feisty children and a brave fearless warrior. - Artsmart
There is a lot of action, and the book moves along at a good pace. There are scary villians, fights, puzzle solving and a lot of good fun in this adventure packed novel. - Examiner.com, Newark, NJ
If you like books with time travel and more than one mystery to unravel, then I would like to recommend [this book]. - BC Booktalk
John Stephens received his MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Virginia in 1998. He then moved to Los Angeles, where he has worked as a writer-producer on Gilmore Girls and The O.C. John Stephens is taking leave from his television career to pursue his passion for writing for children. The Emerald Atlasis his first novel.