A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this is the last book in the six-part Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel fantasy series. Many mythological traditions and characters, historical figures, and time periods meld together here, which may turn inquisitive kids into frequent visitors to Wikipedia, Bulfinch's Mythology, and other sources for background info. Expect middle-of-the-road violence for a fantasy novel, consistent with the rest of the series, although the secret's out in this one on just how many bloodthirsty creatures are waiting on Alcatraz to devour everyone in San Francisco -- and they're pretty nasty. Also, a handful of beloved characters meet their ends here; some go quietly, but most go down fighting. All this is set against the backdrop of the imminent destruction of our world and others.
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What's the story?
It's almost the end. Far in the past, the ancient island of Danu Talis is about to fall. In the present, hundreds of fearsome mythological creatures are about to be unleashed on San Francisco. Saving Danu Talis means saving the Elders, who despise the beings they call humani and rule over them with an iron fist. That's where Sophie and Josh have ended up with Virginia Dare and John Dee, and -- can it be? -- their parents are there, too? Better known as Osiris and Isis, they claim to have been grooming the twins for their true calling, their powerful pure gold and silver auras proof of their claim to the throne. But with the help of Virginia Dare, the humani are rising up, and old friends Shakespeare, Joan of Arc, Scathach, and others drop in with an offensive from Hekate's tree kingdom. Sophie and Josh need to think about whose side they're really on -- and on Alcatraz, so do Machiavelli and friends. They've stopped the first wave of monsters from coming ashore, but will they side with old enemies the Flamels and battle hundreds of other fearsome creatures to keep the human race safe? With some fearsome Dark Elders against them, they only have one very foggy night to fight. And without the Codex to restore their immortality, the rapidly aging Flamels will only last that long anyway.
Is it any good?
It's almost shocking how so many moving parts come together so well in the end -- and it's all pretty satisfying, too. Series fans have been waiting for the monsters on Alcatraz to come out of their cages since Perenelle was imprisoned there -- was it way back at the end of Book 2? Here they come, in the final Book 6, grossly outnumbering a wild assortment of characters (Billy the Kid, Machiavelli, Black Hawk, Odin, Hel, the Flamels), their diverse magical and godly talents making the fight to the finish one surprise after another. And the extreme creep factor of Quetzalcoatl's "evil twin" running the show is a very nice touch.
The surprises also keep coming in the other storylines (which irksomely change from one to the next every chapter). Big secrets come to light about the twins, their parents, and the orchestrations of Abraham the Mage. The only thing that stands out as strange: The twins' story doesn't dominate, as you might expect in a young-adult series. Every one of Scott's key fascinating characters plays a part here and gets a truly grand send-off.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how this hugely ambitious series ends. Were there any big surprises for you? Did you like the fate of all the characters? Are you satisfied with the conclusion?
Talk about some of the many thought-provoking scenes, including Hekate's assertion that a parent's greatest gift to their child is independence. Do kids think they have enough of it? Do you think Hekate meant complete independence right away, or is there more to it?
Try to apply the phrase uttered by Machiavelli, "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" to current world politics. Can you think of countries that are "friends" because they have a common enemy?
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