Friday, October 9, 2009

Century Quartet Book 1: Ring of Fire (MG/Fantasy review)

Well I love me a good series book, especially when it features confident kids and a super cool mystery. I loved this one, fell right into it and read it in a sitting.

Jacket description:

"Four kids. One hotel room. And a briefcase full of mysteries.

Rome, December 29
A mix-up with their reservations forces Harvey from New York, Mistral from Paris, and Sheng from Shanghai to share a room with the hotel owner's daughter, Elettra. Soon the four kids discover an amazing coincidence--they all have birthdays on February 29, Leap Day. That night, a strange man gives them a briefcase and asks them to take care of it until he returns. Soon afterward, the man is murdered.

The kids open the briefcase. In it they find a series of clues that takes them all over Rome, through dusty libraries and dark catacombs, in search of the elusive Ring of Fire, an ancient object so powerful that legend says even a Roman emperor couldn't control it.

In the first book of the Century quartet, Italian author Pierdomenico Baccalario begins a mystery that will take four cities and four extraordinary kids to solve."

I really love the idea of each of the books taking place in a different city in the world, allowing readers to solve mysteries in four unique places. The first obviously takes place in Rome, Italy and the second, I believe, will be set in New York City.

The book is a fast read with lots of twists and turns that will appeal to your reluctant readers and boys and girls alike. 2 boy characters, 2 girl characters, each super smart and savvy. There's a cool color insert portion that gives some visual to the imagery in the book, which I thought was a nice touch and I really felt the plot development was done very well.

I've read other reviews that heavily critiqued character development, but I thought it was done very well, in a fresh fashion. Each book is going to focus on each one of the main characters' cities, therefore Elettra was given the most development in this book, Harvey will get more of the spotlight in book 2.

I can see kids that loved The Mysterious Benedict Society books, Lemony Snicket, and the like really enjoying these. The 39 Clues books are quite similar to this premise as well, so if you have a child loving those, this would make a nice recommendation as well.

Century Quartet Book 1: Ring of Fire
P.D. Baccalario
304 pages
Middle Grade Fantasy
Random House
September 2009
Review copy received from publisher

To learn more, or to purchase, click on the book cover above to link to Amazon. I am an Amazon Affiliate and will receive a tiny percentage of whatever you purchase.


you are the light of the world said...

nice blog and interesting to read.

Deanna/ibeeeg said...

Thanks so much for this review.
I enjoy MG reads and fantasy is one of my favorite genres.
I am going to read this book and most likly my 10yog will enjoy the read as well.