For two years, Cyrus and Antigone Smith have run a sagging roadside motel with their older brother, Daniel. Nothing ever seems to happen. Then a strange old man with bone tattoos arrives, demanding a specific room.Less than 24 hours later, the old man is dead. The motel has burned, and Daniel is missing. And Cyrus and Antigone are kneeling in a crowded hall, swearing an oath to an order of explorers who have long served as caretakers of the world's secrets, keepers of powerful relics from lost civilizations, and jailers to unkillable criminals who have terrorized the world for millennia. N. D. Wilson, author of Leepike Ridge and 100 Cupboards, returns with an imagination-capturing adventure that inventively combines the contemporary and the legendary.
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Rick Riordan fans will find a lot to enjoy in this first installment of the Ashtown Burials series. When Cyrus Smith is given several strange objects by an old man right before his death, Cyrus and his sister Antigone are quickly swept into danger and adventure. All of the objects have magical abilities, and some very bad men would like to get their hands on them, especially the Dragon's Tooth, which is said to have the ability to raise the dead. Strong characters, interesting plot twists, and plenty of action make this a standout in fantasy. It gets a little far-fetched toward the end, but hey, that's part of the fun. The epilogue hints that the second in the series will feature a comeback from their father, who died years ago at the hands of the arch-villain.more
I got an advanced reading copy of this book to review through Amazon Vine. The book starts out a bit slow but ends up being a solid and engaging middle grade adventure and fantasy read.Cyrus, Antigone, and Dan Smith live in a rundown motel that they barely make a living running. When an old tattooed man shows up demanding to stay in a certain room things start changing fast. Within hours of the man's arrival the motel is burnt to the ground, Dan is missing, and Cyrus and Antigone are whisked away to the Order of Brendan.I thought the book started a bit slow, but as it progressed it picked up pace quickly and introduced the reader to an adventurous and fantastical, if grungy, world. I liked that the book followed both Antigone and Cyrus; it made the book easy for both boys and girls to relate to and engage with.The Order of Brendan is an order the kids' parents belonged to and an Order that doesn't like the Smith children much because of things that their past relations have done. Cyrus and Antigone are faced with with a lot of hatred from the moment they arrive at the Order of Brendan. They find help in unexpected places though and discover the secrets behind the keys and tooth that the old tattooed man left with Cyrus.In their exploration of the halls and corridors of the Order of Brendan they find adventure and surprises at every turn. They also find some nifty magical items and meet some fascinating people. Soon though they are on a run for their lives as a very evil man seeks possession of the tooth that Cyrus was given.Cyrus and Antigone were wonderful characters I enjoyed reading about them and enjoyed the stoicism with which they accepted all of the horrible situations they were put in. They always tried to make the best of things and persevere; they supported each other with bravery and determination.I loved the Order of the Brenden and all of the secrets that were in its halls. There is a ton of adventure in this book. There are also traitors, spies, and some scary bits...so only for middle grade or older. I should mention the book takes place in a lot of creepy and gross settings. From the moldy and bug infested motel the characters start in, to the water-logged stone halls with scuttling Whip Spiders that they are forced to sleep in at the Order of Brendan; there is a lot of yucky in this book. I found myself wondering how they could ever sleep in those conditions and got a little itchy from time to time. Still, the descriptions were wonderful and really made the settings come alive.Overall I really enjoyed this book. It was an excellent middle grade adventure fantasy and I enjoyed the world and the characters. You never knew what crazy character you would run into next or what fantastic magical thing you would find around the corner. I highly recommend this to fans of middle grade fantasy. If you enjoyed Fablehaven by Brandon Mull or The Emerald Atlas by John Stephens you should definitely give this book a try.more
The Dragon's Tooth by N. D. Wilson (Ashtown Burials #1)Pages: 496Release Date: August 23rd, 2011Date Read: 2011, September 6th-14thReceived: OwnRating: 5/5 starsRecommended to: 12+Summary -The Archer Motel is a place where waffles are made every day and the dried up pool outside is full of rubber tires. It is the place where Cyrus Lawrence Smith lives, with his sister Antigone and his brother Daniel, and an elderly woman named Mrs. Eldridge. It's nothing special, until a strange man calls. He knows Cyrus' full name and is vehemently requesting a certain room - a room that happens to belong to Cyrus. But it's not the Motel he's after. It's Cyrus and Antigone that he wants, and this might just be the most terrifying and fascinating thing that has ever happened to them. Cyrus and his siblings are thrown into a whirlwind of adventures and dangers bigger than anything they could have imagined...My thoughts -Ummm... Favorite? Ever? In the whole world? Equal to Wilson's other books? The only book equal to Wilson's other books because only Wilson can match Wilson? Yes. To all of it. Say yes to this book. Say yes to Wilson. YES! You thought I loved all those other books? Wilson squashes it all with his pure amazingness.Now. Moving on. When I was in the process of slowly picking my way through this book (I had no intention of reading fast because then it would be over...), there were quite a few times when I would just stop and stare at the book. Or more frequently, I'd jump up and start pacing, murmuring things like an idiot, saying, "Red, flying vipers. White wings. Genius. Red. Vipers. Flying." And then I'd turn to my family and say, "Do you even understand?!" I was a bit of a mess, lemme tell you. A shocked, amazed, and totally engrossed mess.Before I head to the next thing I must say something about his writing. It is so his own style, the way he words and places his sentences. I'm pretty sure that if I opened a random book in the store without seeing the cover or any names, and read a few sentences, and it was him, that I could guess - he's that unique, that irreplaceable. There are few who equal his skill in writing, in my opinion.In any case...Character notes -I would write out every character and go through the list of why they're all amazing and how evil one is compared to the other, or how great and noble, and how perfectly imperfectly human they all are, and how you don't really find characters this developed in the industry very often, and it is a delicious treat to have a copy of this book on my shelf, just for the characters alone, not to mention everything else.I would do that, and it would bore you all to pieces.So let me use one specific example - without ruining anything for you as the reader. As my sister and I read this book together (well, she finished it way before me), we were constantly talking about the book and how amazing it is and totally going fangirly all over our dear sweet copies (we had to buy one for each - no way we're sharing these books!!). In our discussion one day, one of the aspects of the book caught us by surprise. One of the characters, a lead role, is a bit on the serious side, kind of hardened because life has not treated this character too well; sometimes this character may seem a bit "holier than thou". Not in an I-don't-want-to-read-about-this-snob kind of way, but in a very human way. However, slowly, over the course of the book, something happens: this character morphs and changes into a softer, more refined character - and all without us knowing it's happening!! By the end of the book my sister and I were both shocked, saying that the change in this character was so smooth and perfect that it was like a slow drip, each one right after the next, until you have a full pool below.That is the extent of the character development in this book - no telling, only showing. And that's how it should be. But Wilson has mastered it. Well done!And as for the bad guy - holy poop I've NEVER read about a bad guy like this. NEVER. He's like serial-killer-thinks-he's-a-saint type villain, and I loved it. I loved every chilling aspect that he brought to this book. What the heck.Story notes -How can I even wait? This story is not over - and obviously, as a hook (though I'd be hooked no matter what) it ends at a very crucial part in the story, which made me gape at the page for about ten minutes.I know, I'm dramatic. Moving on.From the first pages there are creepy moments, fires, explosions, rather quirky characters, undying men, car chases and bullets, secret passageways, new societies, strange inventions, exploring, mysteries, etc, etc. The list goes on. And this is only 200 pages into the story - I swear. It's packed. It's a roller-coaster, always exhilarating, never stopping. It has perfect pacing, just enough to keep you drawn in for the whole 500 pages, and it still allows you the leisure of choosing how long you want to take to read it. I chose ten days, my sister chose about five. Take your pick - you won't be sorry either way. I mean, who has the ability to write a book that has it all - and still makes it so that you can personalize the pace (a pace that's still fast, no matter how long you take)?Only Wilson, DUH.Apart from being extremely intense and crazy and amazing, this story is really emotional. Cyrus and Antigone are exceptional characters, not only for their ability to be human, but also because they and their story creates intense emotion. Wilson's other books are all very emotional in a sense, but not "I want to cry" emotional. But The Dragon's Tooth had me shedding a few tears in some of the crucial scenes. Very sweet and sad.Oh, and one last thing - it has X-Men like qualities. Crazy cool, huh? Don't ask - just go read.Summing it up -Why would I even dare try to write a single word to compact this book? Such a great feat is impossible. There is no containing this story. You must feast upon it. That is the only way to understand why I love Wilson's books so much. But, granted, there will be those who dislike this book. So while I hope you will all find Wilson's books as incredibly beautiful as I do, you might not. All one can do is hope - and recommend - and push a little bit. Okay, okay, I'll stop with the book-pushing.Recommended 12+ for some very intense scenes.more
Young Cyrus and Antigone have spent nearly the last two years managing a rundown motel in the middle of nowhere, just to stay afloat with their brother Daniel. It's a boring, hard life until a strange tattooed man appears and Daniel goes missing. Then the motel is set on fire, and suddenly, Cyrus and Antigone are forced out of their comfort zones and into a new life where they work closely with a secret organization that's sworn to protect the world's deepest secrets and most mysterious relics. And they aren't the only ones in the family who've gotten involved with the organization.Fast-paced and brimming with excitement, Dragon's Tooth introduces fun, multi-dimensional characters that readers will connect with, cheer for and, most importantly, want to see through to the end. Though I don't read that many children's books these days, this one was well-written and fun, with great action and originality. There were times, however, where I felt like the world became a little overly complex and odd -not to mention the strong Percy Jackson overtones. While this isn't a bad thing (love Percy Jackson), it made me constantly try to compare the two books to one another and, sadly, Percy won out every time. Dragon's Tooth still draws on a mythological basis, but with throwing in something a little different while trying to pull in original mythological content. I wouldn't say that Dragon's Tooth does the whole mythology thing better, but it does a decent job and works hard to stand on its own from Percy. But with a fast-paced plot and so much great action, along with great young heroes and a hidden world -it's hard to not think of Percy, when reading about Cyrus and Antigone.Ashtown Burials though, overall, is an exciting and action-packed new series that's great for younger readers who enjoy Percy Jackson-style stories. Recommended for the young and the young at heart.more
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