Ring of Fire

Pierdomenico Baccalario, Author, Leah D. Janeczko, Translator , trans. from the Italian by Leah D. Janeczko, illus. by Iacopo Bruno. Random $16.99 (304p) ISBN 978-0-375-85895-6

In this first book in the Century Quartet, Baccalario offers an uneven tale of four children discovering their crucial roles in an event of global proportions. When 12-year-old Elettra's father mixes up the reservations at her family's hotel in Rome, she is forced to share her room with Harvey, Sheng and Mistral (visiting from America, China and France, respectively), who all share the same birthday. After they inadvertently cause a blackout across Rome, the new friends head out into the city, where an encounter with a doomed old man lands them a briefcase full of clues, hints about their shared destiny and the attention of Mahler, a ruthless killer armed with a magical violin. As the children crisscross Rome to unravel the puzzle, they are fed information about the secret history of the world and the momentous events that they have been chosen to be part of. The children feel underdeveloped and have basically been reduced to the role of pawns of fate and of the adults who are manipulating them, but there are some genuinely exciting moments and the premise is intriguing. Ages 10–13. (Sept.)

Reviewed on: 09/07/2009
Release date: 09/01/2009
Genre: Children's
Paperback - 291 pages - 978-0-375-85795-9
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