sprite writes
broodings from the burrow

May 31, 2010

into the stacks: the sorceress
posted by soe 1:14 am

once upon a time readalongI’m terrible about writing book reviews. I love having written them, love being able to refer back to them later. But I tend to procrastinate on producing them, with draft posts languishing in my blog’s back end or at GoodReads and books piling up around the apartment, awaiting my having what I deem is the time to write them. So let’s see if I can stand against the tide and make a change in that regard. Let’s start with the book I finished tonight Wednesday, shall we?

The Sorceress, by Michael Scott

From the jacket: “… Sophie and Josh Newman show every sign of being the twins of legend, and Flamel had to protect them and the pages [of the book of Abraham the Mage] from the Dark Elders. But Nicholas grows weaker with each passing day. Perenelle is still trapped on Alcatraz, and now that Scatty has gone missing, the group is without protection. … If he hopes to defeat Dee, Nicholas must find someone who can teach Josh and Sophie the third elemental magic — Water Magic. The problem? The only being who can do that is Gilgamesh, and he is quite, quite insane.”

My take: Amongst the reviews that aren’t finished are Michael Scott’s first two books in The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel series, which I read hungrily last summer. (The Alchemyst, the first book in the series, is featured on my also unpublished Best of 2009 list.) I then picked this book up at a used bookshop shortly after it was released, started it, got interrupted in some way, and neglected to come back to it.

But Grey Kitten and I were talking about the first book and how the fourth book was due out this week, and I thought I’d better pick this up again. I’m glad I did.

Quickly, the premise of the series: Immortals Nicholas and Perenelle Flamel (who are also referred to in the first Harry Potter book) own a bookshop in modern-day San Francisco. Teenager Josh Newman works for them and his twin sister Sophie works at the coffee shop across the street. One day a limo pulls up, Elizabethan magician and political advisor John Dee steps out, and all hell breaks loose. Perenelle and a rare and valuable book are captured, and Nicholas and the two kids (and a yoga instructor) are suddenly on the run with creatures out of mythology, lore, and fairy tales hot on their trail. The first two books travel from California to Mexico and on to Paris as the twins discover they may have magical powers, a crew of “gods” want to return to earth and destroy humanity, and their existence has been foretold as the one thing that might prevent this. This third novel picks up the trio’s adventure five days later as they get off the train in London.

(This novel, as the others before it, is told in the third person, but from rotating perspectives — Josh, Sophie, Nicholas, Perenelle, John Dee, Machiavelli, and Billy the Kid. It’s an effective device that permits the story to operate in multiple spheres simultaneously.)

With the twins still reeling from battling Dee and Macchiavelli in Paris, Josh’s newly awakened powers still overwhelming all his senses, and Nicholas’ powers dwindling by the moment, what the trio needs most upon arriving in London is to avoid detection by Dee’s web of spies and get some rest before they find Gilgamesh, who Nicholas hopes will teach them how to control the element of water. Alas, the undead are waiting for them in the station and every evil magical creature in England seems to be headed their way. Luckily, they are rescued by cab driver and Saracen Knight, Palamedes, who takes them back to his junk yard fortress.

At the same time, Perenelle has escaped the Sphinx (at least temporarily) and regained some of her powers. Yet, although she has befriended a Spanish ghost and allied with the Old Spider, she is still stuck at Alcatraz, unable to reach land safely. It is only a matter of time before the Dark Elders send someone else with strong magic to deal with her on a permanent basis. She has to figure out a way to escape The Rock — and soon.

Back in London, Nicholas and the twins accidentally alert Dee, who has been sent an old and dangerous weapon to help him capture Sophie and Josh, to their whereabouts, wreaking havoc on the peaceful life Palamedes, William Shakespeare, and the Gabriel Hounds had eked out for themselves.

How the story unfolds makes for a page-turning tale with a twist at the end so clever it left my head reeling. I can’t wait to read the next installment.

Pages: 502

This is one of the books I read for the Once Upon a Time Challenge.

Category: books. There is/are 6 Comments.

Oh my gosh! I totally forgot about this series! I read the first (I think I own it, somewhere…) and then when the second came out, had to return it before I got to read it, and then totally forgot about it!

Comment by Jenn 05.31.10 @ 7:36 am

@Jenn: Get caught up and then we can talk about it. I want someone to talk about the end of Book 3 with!

Comment by soe 06.02.10 @ 2:47 am

I am 3/4 through the Necromancer ! I love this series.. love how he mixed real characters w/ fiction and love how fast the story moves. I will hate to see this series come to an end

Comment by deslily 06.02.10 @ 4:19 am

Not a book for me, but I did smile when you wrote, ‘I love having written them.’ That’s so me. When I’ve finished I keep going in to my blog just to look because I’m so very pleased I did it! :<) I can accept the word, geek. ;<)

Comment by Nan 06.02.10 @ 3:46 pm

@Nan: I totally agree. Geek is a good word!

Comment by soe 06.06.10 @ 2:36 am

@deslily: Yay! I need to get up to my local bookstore tomorrow to pick it up. Btw, have you read any of his other works? I’m thinking it’s an untapped source…

Comment by soe 06.06.10 @ 2:38 am