Tuesday, August 4, 2015

End Atlantis Begin Again

Hola Readers.  How are you all?  Are you ready to hear about a book I read while on vacation?  Good, the book is Prospero's Children by Jan Siegel.  I picked this book up at the used book store 'cause the cover was cool and it totally looked like a great vacation book and I WAS RIGHT!!!!  Why was I right (I mean besides the obvious I am always right)?  I'll tell you, but first, as always SPOILERS AHEAD!!!!
I will warn you that the book is a bit convoluted, but I will do my best to sum it up in semi coherent manner, but your best bet is just to read it.  The book is divide into two parts plus a prologue and and epilogue.  Ok let's get to this shall we?  A man is desperately trying to keep his ship afloat amidst the biggest storm the planet has ever seen.  He fails and drowns, his body taken by a mermaid for her collection after she notices a peculiar key around his neck.  Untold years later the mermaid gives a fisherman the key as payment for his son who died after capturing her.  We then come to present times and the first half of the book.  We meet Fern, a 16 year old girl who has turned very practical after her mother died so that she could keep her flighty father and younger brother in line.  She has been doing very well acting the keeper of the house until her father inherits an old house of a relative who was a sea captain.  Fern is not thrilled to spend her holiday in the country, but makes the best of it.  While there, she and her brother Will discover many locked trunks and cabinets, but no keys.  Meanwhile, Fern and Will experience many strange sounds and sights in and around the house.  This does not trouble Will, but Fern has a hard time reconciling it all with her practical way of thinking.  Eventually Fern meets with a man called Ragginbone who hints that there is a lot more going on then they know.  Alison, a coworker of Fern and Will's father offers to "help" them get the property ready to sell.  As soon as she arrives, something seems off and even more strange things happen.  Turns out everybody seems to be searching for a mysterious key that has insane powers.  Fern and Will eventually discover that the key was made from a mysterious source called the Loadstone, an object that held great power and was the center of the culture of the fabled Atlantis.  It seems that the Loadstone altered the Atlanteans genetics, enhancing them to now wield all sorts of useful powers. The people who have these powers are called Gifted and to this day, the few descendants of the Atlanteans still have it.  Fern discovers that she has the Gift.  The Loadstone was destroyed when the last queen of Atlantis Zohran, decided that she wanted to make a key to the Gate of Death so that she would become truly immortal.  This act caused Atlantis to be destroyed and the all powerful key to become last.  Alison, along with an Old Spirit by the name of Azmordis are desperately searching for the key for their own ends.  Turns out that the key is in the house.  Much crazyness ensues (this happens in most books I read) and the key is found, then taken by Alison.  When she opens the Gate, instead of death, she opens a door in time to when the last queen also opened the door causing a time paradox AND the huge wave that destroys Atlantis comes through the door, drowning Alison and wreaking all kinds of havoc in the little town.  Time is now all messed up and Fern is told that the only solution is to go back in time and use the key to lock the door from the other side.  Fern uses a picture as a focus and goes back in time, followed by Azmordis.  The second half of the book shows us how Fern (who has had all her memories replaced by ones that fit the time period better...yeah I know that doesn't make sense, read the book) runs around Atlantis making friends and living out the final days of that fabled city.  The most significant person Fern meets is Rafarl, an Atlantean noble who helps Fern on her quest.  As always more crazyness ensues and after watching the queen Zohran open the gate only to find Alison on the other side and the beginning of the destruction of Atlantis, Fern gets a hold of the key.  Even though she tried to make Rafarl go and escape the coming destruction, he comes back for her (aw, true love, stupid, but sweet).  They go to his ship, but they are perused by Azmordis who wants the key.  Fern gives the key to Rafarl and gives herself up to buy them some time.  The giant wave hits and Fern jumps to the sea.  Fern wakes up back in her own time, with a very worried brother and father.  All seems to be well, as the time leaks have stopped thanks to Ferns sacrifice.  She misses Rafarl, but starts to look forward.  The book ends with Rafarl doing his best to keep the boat afloat, but to no avail.  As he drowns a mermaid takes his body, fascinated by a mysterious key.
Soooo that really did no justice at all to this book.  I can't even begin to get into all the great detail, characters and just coolness that this book held, seriously go read it.  This book was a great book from a first time author who did several things I really liked.  First of all, I like this interesting re-imagining of the Atlantis fable, since there is no definitive myth it allows the author to use it as she likes.  She makes a good case of how a city could be so advanced, and why it may have fallen.  For the most part I enjoyed all of the characters, they all had a part to play, they all had a history, and they all fit into the story without feeling forced.  Fern was interesting as a practical heroine who had to figure out that being an adult was not as straight forward as she thought.  Will was one of my favorite characters, being the perfect counterpoint to Fern.  The relationship between brother and sister was just great. The bad guys were a bit one dimensional, but I did like that there was more then one, they were all different and that they all had a different agenda, this made the alliances and enemies much more interesting.  The author did not try and "get" us by keeping information from us, one of the reasons I found this book to be so interesting is that the author actually made sure we knew for the most part what was going on, having our characters discover truths and mysteries in a timely manner instead of drawing it out forever YAY!  I was a bit worried about the time travel part as the logistics of time travel tend to make my head hurt, but the author did a pretty good job of that.  One of the things she did was have Fern's memories replaced by pertinent ones that applied to the time and place she traveled too.  This gave us a plausible explanation as to why Fern could fit in so easily and made a lot of the tedious acclimation moot. That being said, there was no real reason or mechanism given as to how or why this happened...apparently it is just a side affect of Gifted time traveling?  A side note I found interesting was one of the scenes with the crazy queen Zohran, doing despicable things to assure her power, surrounded by the nobles of the land put me very much in the mind of a similar scene in The Magician's Nephew by C.S. Lewis.  There is a scene in that book where the two children encounter an ancient world filled with frozen nobles of increasingly greedy and evil countenance, culminating in Jadis, a witch queen who destroyed her world for power.  The parallel of these scenes was unexpected and kind of cool.  The best part may be the ending.  I know I know, I usually HATE endings, but this author tied it right back to the beginning in the most clever and believable fashion, making me very very happy. The few things that I was not so keen on.  I found the writing to be a bit uneven, some times when describing something, or a character gets introspective, the writing got over flowery and pretentious.  I felt when the author just told the story instead of trying to author it up, that the book flowed much better.  It was almost like she was trying to write in an overly lyrical, esoteric style, and then would forget to use her pretentious words and just tell a good story.  Some of the "magic" and such were not well explained, and Fern got a bit angsty on occasion, but overall I really enjoyed it.  I am totally stoked when my random picks turn out so well and it was the perfect book to read in the middle of the ocean.  I give this book 7 out of 10 house goblins and recommend it to anybody with an interest in Atlantis, mermaids, magic or time travel that actually works. Happy Reading Everybody!

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