Today’s book review is for the Shadow of Atlantis, from the Shadows of the Past series by Wendy Leighton-Porter, published by Mauve Square Publishing. I received an electronic copy of the book from Renee at Mother Daughter Book Reviews, so I could participate in the blog tour. Keep reading after the review for more information about the tour–and to enter the giveaway!
The Shadow of Atlantis is a fantasy adventure story for middle grade readers. The parents of 10-year old twins Jemima and Joe disappeared under mysterious circumstances. When the twins decide to check out their parents’ treasured book one rainy afternoon, they discover something amazing–the book is able to transport them through time and space. Joe, Jemima, their friend Charlie, and their cat Max end up traveling to Atlantis. They befriend a girl and her family, and soon decide that they must warn the Atlanteans that their island home is doomed to fall into the sea. Then, while trying to help organize an exodus, the twins discover that their parents had been to Atlantis as well–and that not all residents of the island are friendly to guests. Can they save their new friends and escape back to their own world in time?
Leighton-Porter has crafted a creative tale with this book. I enjoyed the way that it melded elements of pure fantasy with historical research. The magical book, key, and translation charms were all clever plot devices–although I do hope that we’ll learn more about what they are and where they came from in future books. But I was willing to overlook their convenience, because of window they offered on history. Even though there has never been any evidence that Atlantis was a real place, Leighton-Porter draws on real artifacts and history from the region and period to give children insight into what life would have been like in Ancient Greek civilization. From lack of indoor plumbing to animal sacrifice, she brings the past to life for her readers.
One of the biggest flaws with the book is that it gets off to a weak start. The writing in the opening is plodding and clunky. The sentences have too many clauses. There are too many modifiers. It’s hard to adjust to the constantly shifting point of view–because while I’m used to reading third person narration, I’m less used to being able to read the internal monologue of every character in a story. Worst of all, the first chapter has no real story or plot. The whole thing is exposition! And most of that exposition is comprehensive introductions to all of the major characters.
If you can make it past the first chapter, though, things get better. That’s when the story really begins–and it’s a fun one. It’s got adventure and fantasy and history and mystery all wrapped up together, in a way that I think will engage young readers. I liked that the protagonists were brother and sister, because it provides an “in” to both boys and girls. The more I read, the more I wanted to know what was going to happen. There were plenty of questions to keep me turning the pages.
Ultimately, I give the book 3 out of 5 stars. I liked it. But I would have liked it more if it had pulled me in from the beginning and if the main characters were a little more fleshed out. I recognize it’s fairly typical for genre fiction to focus on plot and sometimes neglect character development–but there are writers who manage to do both. Still, I think that kids will enjoy the magic and adventure. They’ll probably like the talking cat, too.
About the Book
Title: The Shadow of Atlantis (Shadows From the Past, Book 1)
Author: Wendy Leighton-Porter
Year Published: 2012
Publisher: Mauve Square Publishing
Recommended Age: 8+
Ten-year-old twins Joe and Jemima Lancelot have no idea why their parents have disappeared, but a mysterious old book which had belonged to their father holds the answer… and so begins an unusual quest to discover the truth.
Together with Max, their remarkable Tonkinese cat, and Charlie from next door, the children embark on an epic adventure, travelling back in time to the lost city of Atlantis. Once there, however, they soon run into problems.
Can they save the people of Atlantis from the disaster which is about to destroy their land forever?
And will they find their way back to the safety of their own time before it’s too late?
“Shadows of Atlantis is a well-written story with a collection of likable main characters, a solid plot line, snippets of educational facts about a historically important location and event, and, is filled with mystery, magic, and suspense. This book grabbed me at the prologue and had me hooked until the end.” ~ Mother Daughter Book Reviews, 5 Stars
“… Shadow of Atlantis is an imaginative tale that will draw children in right from the get go. The characters are deftly and warmly established, and Wendy shows a sure touch in enabling these characters to interact in a fun but believable fashion, each playing their own part in the plot’s development….” ~ 5-Star review from John C., Amazon US
“The author makes the legend of Atlantis (and also the story of the Minotaur in the second book) so accessible to kids and in such an imaginative way. My daughter loved the children’s characters and also the comical, lovable cat Max and his ability to help the characters out during times of strife! We will be looking out for future books from this author for sure. A really enjoyable adventure for kids and highly recommended…” ~ 5-Star review from A. Bradshaw, Amazon US
“This story will draw any young reader in will keep them entertained and engaged. It is sometimes hard to find books that will keep children interested, often their subject matter is trivial and insubstantial, this is not true of The Shadow of Atlantis. My daughter can’t wait for the next adventure…” ~ 5-Star review from Annaliese M., Goodreads
*** You can buy the all 6 books (electronic copies) in the series (The Shadow of Atlantis, The Shadow of the Minotaur, The Shadow of the Trojan Horse, The Shadow of the Pyramid, The Shadow of the Volcano, and The Shadow of Camelot) for only 99 cents each from Amazon between October 14 and 28, 2013. Get hooked on this great series NOW by clicking on the Amazon button below. ***
About The Author, Wendy Leighton-Porter
Dividing my time between homes in England and South-West France, I live with my husband Simon and our two beautiful Tonkinese cats. I spent 20 years as a teacher of French, Latin and Classical studies, but now write books for children instead of teaching them.
The Shadow of Atlantis is the first book in a series of 15 planned time-travel stories, featuring 3 children and, unsurprisingly, a rather special Tonkinese cat. Having recently completed number #7, The Shadow of the Norman Arrow (coming soon!), I’m currently working on the eighth book in the series.
As I take my young readers on a magical mystery tour through the past, I’m also hoping that my love of history, myth and legend will rub off on them too. Personally, I’m enjoying the journey so much, I don’t ever want it to end! Why not come along with me for the ride?
The Shadow of Atlantis Blog Tour Schedule (2013)
*** The Shadow of Atlantis Blog Tour Giveaway ***
Prize: One winner will receive a $50 Amazon gift card or PayPal cash
Contest runs: October 14 to November 5, 11:59 pm, 2013
How to enter: Enter using the Rafflecopter widget below.
Terms and Conditions: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. A winner will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget and will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winner will then have 72 hours to respond. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. Odds of winning will vary depending on the number of eligible entries received. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. This giveaway is sponsored by author Paul Hewlett and is hosted and managed by Renee from Mother Daughter Book Reviews. If you have any additional questions – feel free to send and email to Renee(at)MotherDaughterBookReviews(dot)com.