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Published: August 2006
Delacorte Books for Young Readers
In the dead of night, a cloaked figure drags a heavy box through snow-covered streets. The chest, covered in images of mythical beasts, can only be opened when the fangs of its serpent's-head clasp taste blood.
Centuries later, in an Oxford library, a boy touches a strange book and feels something pierce his finger. The volume is blank, wordless, but its paper has fine veins running through it and seems to quiver, as if it's alive. Words begin to appear on the page--words no one but the boy can see.
And so unfolds a timeless secret . . .
This is another book that I picked up because of the cover. I thought it looked interesting, so I wanted to give it a shot.
I liked that it had a bit of a paranormal aspect, but was mostly a mix of contemporary & historical fiction. I know, you're shaking your heads right now. ME, like an element of contemp over paranormal?! Something must not be right in my head, you're thinking. But bear with me. It just works better in this story to have the paranormal bit be smaller.
I'm also classifying this book as middle grade, because it felt to me like the characters were more appropriate for MG readers. Those kids would be able to relate to Blake and Duck a lot better than YA readers would, I think.
I really liked the pacing of the story. It was fast, there was plenty of action, and the slow parts weren't the boring kind of slow. They were the kind that help build the story up and they felt completely necessary. And interestingly enough, the dual-narration didn't bother me in this one. I think it's because there was never any confusion about who was speaking (I'm looking at YOU, Pittacus Lore, because I just finished The Power of Six and the switches drove me NUTS). It was very obvious when we were in the past and the present. It didn't bother me a bit. I think maybe I might be expanding my horizons more than I thought.
Overall, a fun read and one that I'd definitely let my older elementary students read. It's going in my classroom library and hopefully a student (or more) will enjoy it as much as I did. It's pretty darn 'drool worth'!