Friday, September 25, 2009

Middle-Grade Review: The Cronus Chronicles

Take a couple of ordinary middle-school cousins, throw in an eerie mystery, a bunch of real-life Greek gods, and a great sense of humor and you have Anne Ursu’s exciting trilogy, The Cronus Chronicles. I recently finished reading the third and final book of the series and was riveted right until the end.

In Book One, The Shadow Thieves, we meet eight-grader Charlotte and her British cousin Zee. Back home in England, a very strange thing was happening at Zee’s school – kids kept getting sick with a mysterious illness that sapped their energy and confined them to bed. Zee moves in with Charlotte’s family in the U.S., but soon, the same thing begins happening to Charlotte’s classmates. As the cousins worry about their sick friends and try to get to the bottom of the mystery, they encounter strange, unexplainable things all around them. Here, they try to make sense of what’s going on:

But when Charlotte had first thought Zee was bonkers, on the very first night, it was because he’d kept asking if everyone was sick. And then everyone got sick. If he was crazy, he was awfully prescient, too.

And there was something else. The men. The tall, thin, man-like men in the tuxedos. When Zee was talking about the creepy men on the street, something in her brain had stood at attention, and her stomach rose in her belly.

She could close her eyes and picture those men, just as he had described – the strange, old tuxedos; the grayish-white skin; the freakishly chapped lips. She had seen those men before.

But where?

An involuntary shiver ran through Charlotte. That thing in her brain started to dance around urgently. She regarded her cousin carefully.

“You think I’m barmy?” muttered Zee.

Slowly Charlotte shook her head. “No,” she mumbled. “ I don’t think you’re nuts.”

They soon discover a startling fact – that the Greek mythology they’ve learned about at school is actually true and that Greek gods still exist. Charlotte and Zee set off on a quest to find a cure for their friends, venturing down to the Underworld, which is accessed – much to my amusement – through the largest mall in America.

In Book Two, The Siren Song, a demi-god grandson of Poseidon seeks revenge against Charlotte and Zee, and they find themselves - a couple of ordinary eighth-graders - once again up against the Greek gods. In the final book, The Immortal Fire, Charlotte and Zee are responsible for nothing less than the fate of mankind, and they journey to Mount Olympus for a final show-down.

All three books are exciting and suspenseful and written with Ursu’s wonderful wit. She’s created a clever and imaginative world of Greek gods in modern times that kept me reading late into the night. My 15-year old son is a big fan of the series as well. This is a great trilogy for middle-grade and teen readers (and grown-ups!) who enjoy a combination of humor and adventure. For more information on the series, check out Anne Ursu’s website.

Atheneum and Aladdin Paperbacks (Simon & Schuster)

Accelerated Reader:
The Shadow Thieves: Level 5.1, 12 points
The Siren Song: Level 5.7, 14 points


Gina said...

The series sounds pretty good although the lingo may provide a small obstacle for those from the states....Good job on the review!

Sue Jackson said...


Thanks. Actually, the author is American so the lingo is totally US-based, except for an occasional comment from UK cousin Zee. Great series!