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Children's LiteratureThis young adult novel is the first volume of a trilogy set in the magical island world of Elantya. Fourteen-year-olds Gwendolyn and Vic Pierce are cousins born five hours apart to identical twin archaeologists who met the exotic sisters they married on a dig in the jungles of the Yucatan Peninsula. Carlton Pierce has been raising both teens since Gwen's parents were killed in an auto accident two years earlier and his own wife disappeared a week later. After Gwen is almost attacked by a killer whale at an Ocean Kingdoms show, Uncle Cap sends the cousins through a crystal door to a laboratory in Elantya but is unable to follow them. Gwen and Vic make friends with two students, Lyssandra and Sharif, and are welcomed as helpers by Sage Rubicas, though Orpheon his assistant is less welcoming. Vic and Sharif rescue Tiaret, a girl from Afiric, and she becomes their fifth close friend. When the cousins manage to open a window to earth, Cap tells them that the dark sage named Azric, who is using sea creatures called merlons to battle Elantya, is also responsible for the accident that killed Gwen's parents and for the disappearance of Vic's mother. In the laboratory, Rubicas has developed a spell to create transparent shields to protect against the merlons, but Orpheon is strangely unimpressed. While the teens fight off merlons and sea monsters, Orpheon steals the notes necessary to create a larger shield and tries to take the information to Azric. Gwen and Sharif intercept Orpheon, but he leaps off a cliff to escape them. At the end of this book, the five friends are tested for special powers and discover that when they all touch the crystals together, their power is beyond anything ever seen,so strong that it fulfills an ancient prophecy that five Chosen Ones will ultimately fight against the Dark Sages. Intriguing details of the island world and likeable characters make the book a pleasant read. 2006, Little Brown and Company, Ages 12 up.