This is the second book I have finished for the Fall into Reading challenge, so I am halfway to my goal. This is also the second book in the Books of Beginning series, so it will have spoilers for the first book The Emerald Atlas. If you have not read the first book, you may want to skip reading the review.
Emma, Kate, and Michael are back at the Edgar Allan Poe Orphanage in the present time. The day after Christmas, fifteen years prior, both Gabriel and Dr. Pim left on a secret trip. The children are not happy about being in the orphanage again, but at least they are together, until screechers appear. Kate uses the Atlas to remove a screecher and goes to the past, while Emma and Michael are taken away by Dr. Pim. Kate does not appear immediately, but Dr. Pim assures the two children that they will see her soon. Their focus in the meantime is on the second Book of Beginning, the Chronicle of Life. Kate had informed Dr. Pim of dreams she had and one of these concerned her being in the past and Michael as Keeper of the Chronicle. Emma, Michael, and Dr. Pim set out for the city of Malpesa to find the book, when they are attacked by Rourke, the main supporter of the evil Dire Magnus. The children are sent off with Gabriel to find the second book, while Kate is stuck in the past in the final days before the Separation of the magical and nonmagical worlds. There Kate befriends Rafe, a boy with strong magical powers and a grudge against humans and she loses the Atlas, since it disappears after a few hours when brought to the past. As Kate struggles to find a way to her siblings, she discovers an awful secret, which could destroy the future, while Michael and Emma must find the second book before the enemy does.
The second book is just as action-packed as the first and I loved learning more about the magical world Stephens has created. It was interesting to see how the world existed with magic and how prejudices could not be surpressed. Emma and Michael may mourn a world in which magic is hidden, but Kate realizes why it had to be so. I also like how the characters mature when they come into contact with the book they keep. In the first book, it was Kate realizing her parents loved her and that she must look after Emma and Kate. In this second book, Michael grows up and realizes he must take care of Emma. He also realizes he needs others and that fighting a dragon is not as big a deal as one would think. This series has magic like Harry Potter, but it is not a clone of the series. One of the main themes is the love between family members and how no matter what family ties can weather any problem.
Favorite Character: Kate is still my favorite character, even though I enjoyed watching Michael mature in this book. Kate is loyal and strong. She chooses what is right over what is easy, even though her choice will have dire consequences.
Favorite Quotes: "Each day, by our actions, we decide who we are."
"But the point of life isn't to avoid pain. The point of life is to be alive! To feel things. That means the good and the bad. There'll be pain. But also joy, and friendship, and love! And it's worth it, believe me." That last one is a long quote, but it is so important. We often choose the easy way over the right way and I think that quote sums up why that is an awful choice.
This book was even better than the first and I can't wait to read the third book, especially since this had a surprise cliffhanger ending! 5 cups of cocoa!