||The Shadow Thieves
Cronus Chronicles #1
See that girl, the one with the bright red hair, overstuffed backpack, and aura of grumpiness? That's Charlotte Mielswetzski. And something extra-ordinary is about to happen to her.
Oh, it's not the very cute kitten that appears out of nowhere and demands to go home with her. It's not the sudden arrival of her cousin Zee, who believes he's the cause of a mysterious sickness that has struck his friends back in England. It's not her creepy English teacher Mr. Metos, who takes his mythology lessons just a little too seriously. And it's not the white-faced, yellow-eyed men in tuxedoes, who follow Charlotte everywhere.
What's so extraordinary is not any one of these things....It's all of them. And when Charlotte's friends start to get sick one by one, Charlotte and Zee set out to find a cure. Their quest leads them to a not-so-mythical Underworld, where they face rhyme-loving Harpies, gods with personnel problems, and ghosts with a thirst for blood.
Charlotte and Zee learn that in a world overrun by Nightmares, Pain, and Death, the really dangerous character is a guy named Phil. And then they discover that the fate of every person—living and dead—is in their young hands.
In her dazzling debut for young readers, Anne Ursu weaves a tale of myth and adventure, danger and magic that will keep readers engrossed until the very last secret is revealed.
“‘First in a series’ is an overused publicity tag in post-Harry-Potter publishing. But The Shadow Thieves, Book 1 in The Cronus Chronicles, genuinely creates excitement not only about itself but about what might follow. ...The narrator assumes readers are clever, can follow something other than straight chronology, and have a humorous acquaintance with middle school, parents and teachers. What's distinctive is the next level to which author Anne Ursu takes the story by plunging into the classical Underworld, ruled over by a king, Hades, who'd really rather pursue his somewhat standoffish queen, Persephone, than deal with management issues. ...The plotting is zippy, male and female middle-schoolers are at the center, and the issues of personal responsibility and community that are raised are intriguing. Most readers will look forward to additional books.” —Chicago Tribune
"With a wit and cynicism that will enchant most readers, Ursu weaves an extraordinary tale filled with Greek gods, sick and shadowless children, and a plot to overthrow the Lord of the Dead. Charlotte Mielswetzki is in such a bad mood that she doesn't notice a freakish man in a tuxedo following her home from school. But something extraordinary is about to happen. Charlotte's cousin Zee lives in England, where all of his friends are becoming mysteriously and seriously ill. Sent to Charlotte's family in America, he discovers that the same thing is happening to his new friends. It turns out that Philonecron, born in the Underworld, is determined to overthrow Hades and builds an army from children's stolen shadows, getting at them through Zee. The quick-paced novel takes readers on a danger-filled journey from the Midwest to Hades, where Charlotte and Zee make their final stand against the evil threatening to destroy the world of the dead. The Shadow Thieves is a great addition to this newly popular Greek-myth genre. Readers of Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson and the Olympians series (Hyperion) and Jane Yolen's Young Heroes series (HarperCollins) will delight in this new helping of myth-based fiction.” —Lisa Marie Williams, Fairfax County Public Library System, Reston, VA, School Library Journal
“Forget heaven and hell, the Greek underworld isn't a myth! When it's time to leave the corporeal world, everyone makes the journey to Hades' realm, where they spend eternity as a Shade, first waiting in line to cross the river Styx, and thereafter roaming aimlessly. All is status quo until power-hungry Philonecron resolves to reanimate the dead with blood from the living, create an army from the shadows of living children, and usurp Hades' throne. Enter Charlotte Mielswetzski, unwitting accomplice; her cousin Zee, a boy with an unusual bloodline and an unusual shadow; and a kitten named Mew. The cousins come to understand they are at the center of a nefarious underworldly plot, and must protect themselves, foil Philonecron, and reunite the children with their shadows. This story is charmingly silly, but has enough serious moments to carry the plot forward. It unwinds with such unabashed cheerfulness and gusto that readers will find much to enjoy, especially if they can connect with its mythological base.” —Holly Koelling, Booklist