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Young adult book reviews for ages 12 and up - middle school and high school students

*The Sorceress: The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel* by Michael Scott- young adult book review
Also by Michael Scott:

The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel: The Necromancer
The Sorceress: The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel
by Michael Scott
Ages 11-15 512 pages Delacorte May 2009 Hardcover    

The third book in The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel series, The Sorceress continues the story of the alchemyst Nicholas Flamel in his quest to retrieve the ancient book of Abraham the Mage (also known as the Codex), from Dr. John Dee.

Teenage twins Josh and Sophie accompany Flamel in his pursuit in Paris and London while his wife, Perenelle (known as the Sorceress) remains trapped on the island of Alcatraz. The Codex contains the most powerful spells in the world, including the one necessary for Flamel and his wife to maintain their immortality; without it, they are aging at least one year every day. The book also holds the secret spells for recreating the earth in such a way that the Dark Enders will control the world and humans will ultimately die out.

Flamel and the twins have only two pages of the book, ripped out during a struggle in the first book of the series, so the Codex is now incomplete. Dr. Dee, working on behalf of the Dark Elders, and Flamel have equally urgent motives to get the entire book: whoever has the book determines the fate of all humanity. The twins are another part of the key; Flamel is convinced that Josh and Sophie, with their silver and gold auras, are the twins prophesied to either save or destroy the world.

It is not only crucial for Flamel to regain the full Codex but also for Josh and Sophie to achieve the fullness of their powers. Sophie, whose powers were awakened in the first book, knows the powers of air and fire. Josh is awakened in The Sorceress by the war god Mars and given his special gift of tactical knowledge. However, they must learn the extent of their powers, lessons that can only be taught by other immortals. They travel to England find Gilgamesh, the oldest immortal of all, and together they learn the power of water.

Dr. John Dee and his cohort, Niccolo Machiavelli, have been given their last opportunity by the Dark Elders to kill both Flamels and capture the twins. As a result, they all face countless dangers from the attacks of mythical creatures directed by Dee and Machiavelli at every turn of their journey. While Perenelle remains separate from her husband and the twins on Alcatraz, she faces her own imminent dangers on Alcatraz – guarded by a sphinx, attacked by other mythical creatures, yet allying herself with the ghost of Spanish explorer Juan Manuel De Ayala and the mythical spider Areop-Enap.

Although sufficient background information is well-explained, The Sorceress is best read after the first two books in the series, The Alchemyst and The Magician. The plots are complex yet well-constructed with separate, alternating chapters telling the story in a third-person voice from the perspectives of Perenelle, Nicholas and the twins, and Dee and Machiavelli. Michael Scott’s main characters are all deeply thought-out and well-developed with good and bad motives and sides to their personalities. Each character grows through new revelations of their history and through their life and death experiences.

This book is a little slower paced than its predecessors; nonetheless, it is difficult to believe that so much can happen in such a short period of time. Each confrontation with a mythical being puts the characters in mortal danger; although the reader expects them to survive in the end, the suspense builds as each situation appears to be inescapable. The most enthralling parts tie all the fantastical plot elements together as Michael Scott carefully weaves history and mythology together to connect familiar figures such as Shakespeare and Billy the Kid within a meticulous plan.

Other key events in the storyline include the untold powers of the great sword Clarent (the twin of Excalibur) and Perenelle’s great escape using clever alliances, self-determination, ingenuity, and extraordinary magical gifts. Taking place all within a time span of two days, the book is full of fast-paced action and fascinating characters from history, legend and mythology. Michael Scott has painstakingly researched all the characters. All, except Josh and Sophie, are based on actual historical figures and legends from throughout the world.

With multiple storylines, more mature readers will understand the story better than younger readers. Like Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel will stimulate readers to research legends, myths, and even historical figures. The reading level in the series advances as each new book adds a new layer to the plot line. Michael Scott’s companion website answers many questions the reader might have about the characters, including solid historical information on Nicholas Flamel and the author’s inspiration and research for the book.

Highly recommended.
Young adult book reviews for ages 12 and up - middle school and high school students

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  Kristine Wildner/2009 for curled up with a good kid's book  

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