Thursday, May 28, 2009

Review: Magickeepers: The Eternal Hourglass

Summary: Nick Rostov's father is the worst stage magician in Las Vegas. He can barely pull a rabbit out of a hat. So it is a strange morning indeed when Nick wakes up to find himself on the top floor of the Winter Palace Casino with a promise from the greatest magician in the world to teach him magic.

And not just stage magic. Real magic. Nick sets out to learn about his mother's family, the strange Russian clan of magicians that secretly run the Winter Palace. But there is a catch: Nick has the sight, the ability to see into the past. And so it must fall to him, with only his cousin Isabella to help, to pick up the long-buried clues and unravel the mystery of The Eternal Hourglass, the only magic artifact ever created that can actually stop time. -- Sourcebooks

I am so glad that I have a daughter who loves to read because it forces me to read books that I probably wouldn't have picked up otherwise. Thanks to her, I have recently discovered how many great middle-grade books are out there. MAGICKEEPERS: THE ETERNAL HOURGLASS BOOK ONE by Erica Kirov is another example of a terrific book for young readers that I really enjoyed.

I thought the basic premise of this novel is terrific. On his 13th birthday, Nick realizes that he can see into the past while looking through a crystal ball in a magic shop. He also learns that his mother, who died when he was a baby, was a member of a family of Russian magicians. His grandfather takes him to live with his "family;" and they begin to train Nick so he can learn how to use his powers. The book really takes off when Nick gets involved in a battle with the Shadowkeepers over an Eternal Hourglass that can stop time. There is a ton of action in this novel, and it's actually a very fast-paced read.

So many of the characters in this novel are extremely interesting, but I absolutely loved Nick. Nick was just a terrific character who, despite his abilities, seemed very real to me. He is a young boy who is forced to grow up very quickly and accept that his life will never be the same. Although he was constantly facing challenges that appeared to be impossible, he handled everything that came his way with a sense of maturity and intelligence. I think children will not only relate to Nick and his "normal" young teen feelings, but they will also look up to him as a hero and someone who did the right things for his family.

As is often the case in books like this, the characters must face off against evil; and in this story, it was the Shadowkeepers who were the enemy. I especially liked that Nick used not only his physical skills but also his intellectual prowess against the bad guys. There were riddles and spells that he had to figure out, and he also had to use his magical powers; however, I liked that he eventually was successful because he outsmarted them!

Not only did I find the story and characters interesting, but I really liked that there was a little historical information thrown in. The book doesn't get bogged down and read like a history lesson, but I thought it was a great idea for the author to mix in real-life historical characters like Harry Houdini and Rasputin. I can imagine that there will be some readers who are interested in learning more about Houdini and Rasputin, and this book might just make them do a little more research.

My daughter hasn't had a chance to read MAGICKEEPERS yet, but I'm pretty sure that she's going to love it. This book has all the criteria to make it a great read for middle-graders including action, suspense, and adventure. Plus there's the element of magic that certainly doesn't hurt! I think this book will appeal to both boys and girls (and their parents as well.) I am not alone in my praise for THE ETERNAL HOURGLASS because this novel is already generating some terrific buzz. Check out this review in Publishers Weekly and this review in April Kirkus.

While the actual story about the Eternal Hourglass was resolved, the author definitely leaves the reader with some questions about Nick and his family's past. It's clear to me that there are a lot more stories to tell in the MAGICKEEPERS series; and I, for one, can't wait until the next book comes out. In the meantime, if you'd like to read a sample chapter from the first book, click here.

Thanks to Paul from Sourcebooks for sending me a copy of this terrific book!

Check out these other sites and their reviews of MAGICKEEPERS.

YA Books Central
Books For Your Kids
The Reading Tub
Book Loons
Dolce Bellezza
The Written World
Blog Critics (5/27)
Abby the Librarian (5/28)
A Childhood of Dreams (5/29)
Eva’s Book Addiction (5/29)
Word Candy (5/29)
Book Views (6/1)
Looking Glass Review (6/5)
Alea Pop Culture (6/18)
Beth Fish Reads (6/23)


Laughing Stars said...

This might be a good pick for my 10-year-old. Thanks!

Beth F said...

NOw that I've a chance to read and review the book, I'm coming back to take a look at the others.

Great review. Nick is really an appealing boy, but Isabella and the tiger will definitely draw in the girls.