From the Publisher
Praise for The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel series:
A New York Times Bestseller
A USA Today Bestseller
An Indie Next List Selection
A New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age
An IRA Young Adult Choice Book
An IRA Children’s Choice Winner
“[A] riveting fantasy . . . fabulous read.” —School Library Journal, Starred
“Readers will be swept up.” —Kirkus Reviews, Starred
“Fans of adventure fantasies like Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson and the Olympians series will eat this one up.” —VOYA
“An exciting and impeccably thought-out fantasy, well-suited for those left in the lurch by Harry Potter’s recent exeunt.” —Booklist
VOYA - Jan Chapman
In this fourth installment of The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel series, Scott continues the story of Josh and Sophie Newman, twins with magical powers that hold the key to the survival of humanity. It's the basic "good guys vs. bad guys" scenario, but things become complicated when the twins realize that the magician, Nicholas Flamel, who has heretofore been their mentor, may be manipulating them for his own purposes. The twins also begin to comprehend that the line between good and evil is often blurred, calling into question their own motivations. Their main foe, the villainous Dr. John Dee, hopes to use necromancy to raise the Mother of the Gods from the dead in a desperate bid to save himself and control the world. As always, it is up to the twins, along with an assortment of supernatural allies, to stop him. This popular fantasy series, although entertaining, suffers from "kitchen sink" syndrome in its plot and characters. There are enough plot twists for two novels and the plethora of characters/supernatural beings can be confusing. As a result, towards the end of the novel, the story begins to sink under its own weight. This will not deter many readers, though, or fans of this series, who have grown used to the excess of riches. Scott ends the novel with the promise of another book in the series. One hopes that the emphasis will be on continuing to explore the growth of Sophie and Josh, even if that means sacrificing a monster or two. Reviewer: Jan Chapman
Children's Literature - Shirley Nelson
Nicholas and Perenelle Flamel are running out of time. They have lost the Codex which includes the Immortality Spell and they're aging rapidly. They need to call on twins Sophie and Josh Newman again for assistance. This fourth installment in "The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel" is a rollicking ride through modern San Francisco and London as well as through the Shadowrealms. Will the Newman twins prove to be the twins of prophecy who can save the world? Alcatraz is full of monsters just waiting to invade San Francisco. Dr. Johnathan Dee is confident he will finally defeat the Flamels. Historical figures such as Machiavelli; Shakespeare; and Billy the Kid, as well as mythical characters Thor; Prometheus; and Palamedes, and a Knight of the Round Table join the battle for control of the world. While this novel can stand on its own, newcomers to the series may find the relationships among all of the characters confusing. However, like this reviewer, they will be eager to read the earlier novels and anxiously await the next. Reviewer: Shirley Nelson
School Library Journal
Gr 6–10—Nicholas Flamel is dying, and the spell from the Codex that renews his immortality is in the possession of the evil John Dee. Reunited with his wife, Perenelle, Flamel hopes to use his remaining power to prevent the monsters now on the island of Alcatraz from escaping. Meanwhile, Machiavelli and Billy the Kid have come to San Francisco to achieve the opposite, releasing the monsters to destroy the city. Twins Sophie and Josh are also back in San Francisco, where Sophie is kidnapped by Aoife, the twin sister of Scathach, the Celtic warrior who had been protecting them. Josh is beginning to doubt whether he is on the right side of things. John Dee is now persona non grata with the Dark Elders, having failed to capture the siblings in London. Trying to escape his inevitable judgment, Dee teams up with Virginia Dare to find his way to Josh so that he can train him as a Necromancer. With this power, Josh can raise Coatlicue, the Mother of All the Gods, from the dead, and thus allow Dee to take over the world himself. Depending on one's point of view, all of these plot elements can either be disconcerting or can serve to create a sense of unrelenting forward momentum, taking readers breathlessly through to the end. The end in this case is a huge cliff-hanger, carrying with it an enormous sense of melancholy and moral ambiguity. This book will thrill fans of the series who are willing to stick with it to the conclusion.—Tim Wadham, St. Louis County Library, MO
Read an Excerpt
“Never thought we’d ever see this place again.” Sophie Newman grinned and looked at her brother.
“Never thought I’d be so happy to see it,” Josh said. “It looks . . . I don’t know. Different.”
“It looks the same,” his twin answered. “We’re the ones who’ve changed.”
Sophie and Josh were walking down Scott Street in Pacific Heights, heading for their aunt Agnes’s house on the corner of Sacramento Street. They had last seen the house six days earlier—Thursday, May 31—when they had left for work, Sophie at the coffee shop, Josh in the bookstore. It had started as just another ordinary day, but it had turned out to be the last ordinary day they would ever experience.
That day their world had changed forever; they too had changed, both physically and mentally. “What do we tell her?” Josh asked nervously. Aunt Agnes was eighty-four, and although they called her aunt, she was not actually related to them by blood. Sophie thought she might have been their grandmother’s sister . . . or cousin, or maybe just a friend, but she had never been quite sure. Aunt Agnes was a sweet but grumpy old lady who fussed and worried if they were even five minutes late. She drove both Sophie and Josh crazy and reported back to their parents about every single thing they did.
“We keep it simple,” Sophie said. “We stick to the story we told Mom and Dad—first the bookshop closed because Perenelle wasn’t feeling well, and then the Flamels . . .”
“The Flemings,” Josh corrected her.
“The Flemings invited us to stay with them in their house in the desert.”
“And why did the bookshop close?”
Josh nodded. “Gas leak. And where’s the house in the desert?”
“OK, I got it.”
“Are you sure? You’re a terrible liar.”
Josh shrugged. “I’ll try. You know we’re going to get grilled.”
“I know. And that’s even before we have to talk to Mom and Dad.”
Josh nodded. He glanced over at Sophie. He’d been mulling something over for the past few days, and figured this would be the perfect time to bring it up. “I’ve been thinking,” he said slowly. “Maybe we should just tell them the truth.”
“The truth?” Sophie’s expression remained unchanged and the twins continued walking, crossing Jackson Street. They could see their aunt’s white wooden Victorian house three blocks away.
“What do you think?” Josh asked, when his sister said nothing more.
Finally Sophie nodded. “Sure, we could.” She brushed a few strands of blond hair out of her eyes and looked at her brother. “But just let me get this straight first. We’re going to tell Mom and Dad that their entire life’s work has been for nothing. That everything they have ever studied—history, archaeology and paleontology—is wrong.” Her eyes sparkled. “I think it’s a great idea. But I’ll let you go ahead and do it, and I’ll watch.”
Josh shrugged uncomfortably. “OK, OK, so we don’t tell them.”
“Not yet, in any case.”
“Agreed, but it’ll come out sooner or later. You know how impossible it is to keep secrets from them. They always know everything.”
“That’s because Aunt Agnes tells them,” Sophie muttered.
A sleek black stretch limousine with tinted windows drove slowly past them, the driver leaning forward, checking addresses on the tree-lined street. The car signaled and pulled in farther down the block.
Josh indicated the limo with a jerk of his chin. “That’s weird. It looks like it’s stopping outside Aunt Agnes’s.”
Sophie looked up disinterestedly. “I just wish there was someone we could talk to,” she murmured. “Someone like Gilgamesh.” Her blue eyes magnified with sudden tears. “I hope he’s OK.” The last time she had seen the immortal, he’d just been wounded by an arrow fired by the Horned God. She looked at her brother, irritated. “You’re not even listening to me.”
“That car is stopping outside Agnes’s house,” Josh said slowly. A vague warning tingled at the back of his skull. “Soph?”
“What is it?”
“When was the last time Aunt Agnes had a visitor?”
“She never has visitors.”
The twins watched a slender black-suited driver get out of the car and climb the steps, his black-gloved hand trailing lightly on the metal rail. Their Awakened hearing clearly heard the knock on the door, and unconsciously they increased their pace. They saw their aunt Agnes open the door. She was a slight, bony woman, all angles and planes, with knobby knees and swollen arthritic fingers. Josh knew that in her youth she had been considered a great beauty—but her youth had been a long time ago. She had never married, and there was a family story that the love of her life had been killed in the war. Josh wasn’t sure which one.
“Josh?” Sophie asked.
“Something’s not right,” Josh muttered. He broke into a jog; Sophie fell into step beside him, easily keeping up.
The twins saw the driver’s hand move and Aunt Agnes take something from him. She leaned forward, squinting at what looked like a photograph. But when she bent closer to get a better look, the driver immediately slipped around behind her and darted into the house.
Josh took off at a sprint. “Don’t let the car leave!” he shouted at Sophie. He raced across the street and up the steps into the house. “Hi, Aunt Agnes, we’re home,” he called as he ran past her.
The old woman turned in a complete circle, the photograph fluttering from her fingertips.
Sophie followed her brother across the street but stopped behind the car. She stooped and pressed her fingertips against the rear passenger tire. Her thumb brushed the circle on the back of her wrist and her fingers glowed white-hot. She pushed; there was the stink of burning rubber, and then, with five distinct popping sounds, the rubber tire was punctured. Air hissed out and the tire quickly settled onto its metal rim.
“Sophie!” the old woman shrieked as the girl ran up the steps and grabbed her confused aunt. “What’s going on? Where have you been? Who was that nice young man? Was that Josh I just saw?”
“Aunt Agnes, come with me.” Sophie drew her aunt away from the door, just in case Josh or the driver came rushing out and the old woman was accidentally knocked down. She knelt and picked up the picture her aunt had dropped, then helped the older woman a safe distance away from the house. Sophie looked at the photograph: it was a sepia image of a young woman dressed in what looked like a nurse’s uniform. The word Ypres and the date 1914 had been written in white ink in the bottom right-hand corner. Sophie caught her breath—there was no doubt who the person was. The woman in the photograph was Scathach.
Josh stepped into the darkened hallway and pressed flat against the wall, waiting until his eyes had adjusted to the gloom. Last week he wouldn’t have known to do that, but then, last week he wouldn’t have run into a house after an intruder. He would have done the sensible thing and dialed 911. He reached into the umbrella stand behind the door and lifted out one of his aunt’s thick walking sticks. It wasn’t Clarent, but it would have to do.
Josh remained still, head tilted to one side, listening. Where was the stranger?
There was a creak on the landing and a young-looking man in a simple black suit, white shirt and narrow black tie came hurrying down the stairs. He slowed when he spotted Josh, but didn’t stop. He smiled, yet it seemed more of a reflex than a voluntary gesture—it didn’t move past his lips. Now that the man was closer, Josh saw that he was Asian; Japanese, maybe?
Josh stepped forward, the walking stick stretched out in front of him like a sword. “Where do you think you’re going?”
“Past you or through you, makes no difference to me,” the man said in English tinged with a strong Japanese accent.
“What are you doing here?” Josh demanded.
“Looking for someone,” the man answered simply.
The intruder came off the bottom step into the hall and moved to walk out the front door, but Josh barred his route with the stick. “Not so fast. You owe me an answer.”
The black-suited man grabbed the stick, yanked it from Josh’s grip and snapped it across his knee. Josh grimaced; that had to hurt. The man tossed the two pieces on the floor. “I owe you nothing, but you should be thankful that I am in a good mood today.”
There was something in the man’s voice that made Josh step back. Something cold and calculating that made him suddenly wonder if the man was entirely human. Josh stood in the doorway and watched the man move lightly down the steps. He was reaching for the car door when he spotted the back tire.
Sophie smiled and waggled her fingers at him. “Looks like you have a puncture.”
Josh hurried down the steps and joined his sister and their aunt. “Josh,” Agnes said querulously, “what is going on?” Her gray eyes were huge behind thick glasses.
The rear passenger window eased down a fraction and the Japanese man spoke urgently into it, gesturing toward the tire.
Abruptly the door opened and a young woman climbed out. She was dressed in a beautifully tailored black suit over a white silk shirt. There were black leather gloves on her hands and a pair of tiny round black sunglasses perched on her nose. But it was her spiky red hair and pale freckled skin that gave her away.
“Scathach!” both Sophie and Josh cried in delight.
The woman smiled, revealing a mouthful of vampire teeth. She pushed down the glasses to reveal brilliant green eyes. “Hardly,” she snapped. “I am Aoife of the Shadows. And I want to know what has happened to my twin sister.”
From the Hardcover edition.