His dad is well known as the worst magician in Las Vegas. Nick hasn't had a real friend in years. And his report card is not good at all. One F. Two Cs. One B-minus. And an A. In Health. But on Nick's thirteenth birthday his life changes forever. Awaking on the top floor of the world famous Winter Palace Hotel and Casino, he meets, for the fi rst time, his extended family. A family gifted with the power of magic, real magic, exiled from their native Russia, they now hide in plain sight among the neon lights of the Casino.
All members of the family are powerful magicians, but Nick is unique. Nick has the sightthe ability to see into the past. His gift is the only way to unravel the mystery of the Eternal Hourglass, a magic artifact so strong it can even stop time. But the family's enemies will stop at nothing to get it. Nick knows that he is in for the adventure of a lifetime if he survives.
The one and only Harry Houdini was killed for it, the most powerful magicians have battled for centuries to retrieve it, and even the Ancient Pharoahs feared its power.
What would you do for an hourglass that stopped time?
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About the Author
Erica lives in Virginia with her husband, four children, three dogs, parrot, and her son's snake (she really hates snakes). She is busy at work on the next Magickeepers novel.
Read an Excerpt
The Eternal Hourglass Book One
By Erica Kirov
Sourcebooks, Inc.Copyright © 2010 Erica Kirov
All rights reserved.
A LESS-THAN-STELLAR BIRTHDAY REPORT CARD
Nick Rostov stared down at his end-of-year report card.
One F. Two Cs. One B-minus. And an A. In Health.
He tried to imagine how he would explain to his dad that his lone A was for the class that taught where babies came from; that he knew what a fallopian tube was, but square roots eluded him.
If he thought his report card was bad, lunch was a disaster. When he walked into the cafeteria, an overwhelming stench overpowered him—way worse than Tuna-Surprise Tuesdays and Mystery-Meat Mondays. The usual lady in the hairnet had been replaced by a creepy guy with long, wiry hair and strange eyes, and whatever the guy was serving didn't look good—and smelled worse. The smell was so gross that Nick didn't eat and instead fished from his backpack a pulverized snack-size bag of potato chips, which had been crushed into smithereens by his math book. This meant he actually ate potato chip dust, and his stomach growled all afternoon.
When the final bell rang, he grabbed his skateboard from his locker and waved good-bye to a couple of kids in the hall. Once he was off school property, Nick rode his board down the hot Nevada sidewalk in the general direction of the hotel where he lived in a suite with his dad.
He'd attended two schools in the last three years. Every time his dad was fired or changed jobs, they moved. Nick bent his knees and jumped a curb on his skateboard.
Living in hotels with his dad meant whenever Nick made a friend at the hotel pool, the kid was on vacation. He figured over the last three or four years, he'd made a hundred friends, and not one of them lived in Las Vegas. He once had a friend from Belize. He didn't even know where Belize was.
Nick rode his skateboard into a big parking lot by the high school, the wheels making a steady whish-whish noise. He didn't want to go home—not with that report card. Not that his dad would say much, but he always had a sad look on his face. Bad report cards only made it sadder.
Nick didn't know how long he rode his skateboard, hopping curbs, jumping over banged-up trash cans lying on their sides. The last two cars left the high school's parking lot, two teachers with bulging briefcases, grinning from ear to ear. Even teachers were happy when school let out for summer.
Finally, he started toward home, the sky clear and cloudless. When he arrived at the Pendragon Hotel and Casino, the doorman, Jack, asked him, "How'd you do on your report card?"
"That good, huh?"
"Then you may not want to go up. Your grandfather is here. Louisa in housekeeping called me. You can hear them yelling all the way down the hallway."
"Great. Just what I need. Dad will be in an even worse mood."
Nick sighed, picked up his board, walked through the lobby, and rode up in the elevator—the one with the light that sometimes flickered like a horror movie. He stepped off when it arrived at his floor. Out of the corner of his eye, he thought he saw something move. He whirled around in time to see a weird shadow on the wall. He took a few steps toward that end of the hall, and the shadow slid under a room door. Nick didn't see a single thing that could have created the shadow.
"What the ...?" Shadows didn't appear from nothing. Nick hesitated but walked closer to the door where it had disappeared.
The closer he got, the more he smelled ... well, he didn't know what it was. But it was worse than his gym locker after not washing his P.E. uniform all year. It reminded him of the cafeteria's strange odor at lunch. Could a lunchroom stench follow you home? Or was it something weirder than that?
Nick shivered. Whatever had gone under that door—shadow and stench—he didn't want to be near it. So he ran down the hall as fast as he could, looking over his shoulder every couple of strides. When he reached his door, he could hear his father and grandfather arguing.
"I told you, Gus, absolutely not!" his father's voice was loud. His dad never yelled. He gave Nick that "I'm disappointed in you, son" speech, but he never yelled, not even at Grandpa.
"It doesn't matter if you refuse. It's in his bloodline."
"Don't talk to me about this. The answer is no."
"She would have wanted him to go. She would have wanted to know. For sure. Once and for all. I know my daughter. She would have."
"She wouldn't. That's why we're even here, Gus. She was hiding from them. From her past."
"You're a fool! Sooner or later, he'll find out for himself. You can't fight it."
Nick's heart pounded. He leaned his ear closer to the door. Find out what?
Down the hall, he thought he saw something move.
Regardless of the fight on the other side of the door, Nick would rather be in there with his dad and grandfather yelling at each other, than out in the hall where things were getting creepier by the second. He slipped his card key in the lock and opened the door.
"Nick, my boy," his grandfather turned around, a big smile on his face, acting as though nothing had happened. "I was just leaving. But I'll see you for your birthday tomorrow. A teenager! I can't believe it ... thirteen. You make me feel older than I already am."
His grandfather grabbed Nick in a bear hug. Nick looked over at his dad, who was glaring at them.
After his grandfather left, Nick asked, "What were you two arguing about?"
"We weren't arguing."
"I heard you. You're always arguing lately."
His father shook his head. "Your grandfather has his own ideas about how you should be raised. And I have mine."
"I wish you two would get along."
"Sometimes there are some things so important that people just can't agree. Anyway, don't worry about it, okay?" He glanced at his watch. "I need to get ready."
His dad went to his bedroom to change into his tuxedo. He performed every night, twice on Saturday, as the magician at the Pendragon. He sawed an assistant in half, and he could pull a white dove out of his hat. But Nick knew he was really, really bad at it. He also told horrible jokes. His father thought they were really funny—but Nick had been in the audience. People actually groaned.
His dad returned to the living room, looking dapper in his slightly thread-worn black tuxedo. He asked, "If Houdini were alive today, what would he be doing?"
"Dad, I've heard this joke before. I've heard it like fifty times before."
"Humor me. What would he be doing?"
"Scratching on the inside of his coffin."
His father started laughing. "That one always cracks me up."
Nick just shook his head.
His dad walked to the door to leave.
"Oh, Dad, before you go out in the hall, there was a really weird smell out there earlier."
"I don't know, but ... it was down at the other end of the hall."
His father opened the door and sniffed the air. "I don't smell anything. Maybe it was room service." He laughed at his own joke. "All right, buddy, there's a microwavable TV dinner in the freezer. Or you can have room service make you something—if you dare. Have a good night, okay?"
Nick nodded. After his dad left, Nick poked his head out in the hall. Whatever that odor was, it was gone.
He shut the door and smiled to himself. He hated when his grandfather and dad fought. But there was one good thing that came from it.
His dad had forgotten to ask for his report card.CHAPTER 2
A GIFT, THE GIFT
The next night—his birthday—Nick stood inside the red-velvet and tarnished-gold lobby of the Pendragon Hotel and Casino, hands in his pockets, waiting for his grandfather. Finally, Nick spied him walking across the lobby's worn carpeting, a big smile on his face.
"Waiting long, birthday boy?" he asked Nick, giving him a hug.
"No. Where are we going to eat? I'm starving." In fact, he thought he might just die if he didn't get a cheeseburger soon.
"You're always starving. I don't know where you put it all. Anyway, I can't tell you where we're going. It's a surprise. But we're already late." He practically dragged Nick along as they hurried out of the casino and climbed into Grandpa's car.
Grandpa drove the biggest purple Cadillac convertible in Las Vegas, complete with fuzzy purple dice hanging from the rearview mirror. Nick supposed that it was the biggest purple Cadillac in the world, actually, as he didn't imagine there were many people willing to drive around in something so unbelievably, horrifically embarrassing.
"And where did you say we were going?" Nick asked as they pulled away and snaked through the streets of Las Vegas.
"Do you honestly think I'm going to fall for that? Can't trick me. I'm not that old. A surprise, I told you," Grandpa said, his white handlebar mustache wiggling with pent-up amusement.
Nick stared up at the neon lights of the city. Bulbs danced in synchronized staccato, advertising casinos, hotels, and Las Vegas's most spectacular shows—including the most famous of them all, the magician Damian. Tickets were sold out three years in advance, and they were so expensive that Nick figured there was no chance he'd ever see the show, much as he wanted to.
A steamy June breeze ruffled his hair—which his father was always nagging him to cut—as they left the city. They were headed into the desert. Nick stared out at the expanse of nothingness, just dust and sand and highway. He looked at himself in the side-view mirror. He was tall for his age and thin, with dark brown, wavy hair that hit the collar of his shirt. He had freckles scattered across the bridge of his nose, leading, like a crooked path, to his pale blue eyes. Those eyes were the same color as Grandpa's, which were the same color as Nick's mother's, who died when Nick was a baby.
Grandpa drove on and on in the desert until Las Vegas was nothing more than a glowing speck far behind them. Nick stared up at the sky, which was blanketed with stars. The farther they drove, the smaller and more alone Nick felt—even though Grandpa was right beside him. Eventually, they reached a side road and turned left. There was no sign.
"Are you sure you know where you're going?"
"Absolutely, Nicky," Grandpa replied. His round belly, which resembled a department store Santa's, nearly touched the steering wheel.
Up ahead, a wooden house stood lonely beneath a hollow moon. When they drove closer, he realized it was actually a store of some sort. Grandpa pulled up in front of it.
"Here we are," Grandpa said as he put the car in park and looked over at Nick. "Come on, then. We're late."
Nick peered through the windshield at the sign on the door.
"Madame Bogdonovich's Magical Curiosity Shoppe?"
"She's expecting us."
Nick clambered out of Grandpa's purple monstrosity and walked up the steps, Grandpa behind him.
"How the heck would anyone find this place if they wanted to buy something? This has to be the least successful magic shop ever."
Nick peered in the window, but all he saw were shadows. He loved learning magic tricks, but his father hated it. Even though his dad was a magician, he always said he wanted Nick to become something—anything—else.
Grandpa reached the top step, and Nick opened the door. A bell gently chimed.
"Just von minute!" a high voice, almost like an opera singer's, sang out to them.
From behind a curtain that jangled with beads, an old woman emerged with makeup decorating her eyes that made them look like two butterfly wings and a deep purple and green scarf around her wild, gray, curly hair. Gold bracelets clinked, crowding her arms from her wrists to her elbows. She wore a long, green velvet ball gown and what looked like an enormous emerald necklace that seemed to glow.
"Gustav!" she purred at Nick's grandfather. "You've brought him!"
He nodded. "Nick, allow me to present Madame B."
"Hi!" Nick lifted his hand in an awkward wave. He looked around the shop, which was mind-bogglingly crowded, a jumble of colorful scarves, hoops and rings, satin boxes, books on magic, top hats, wands, costumes, capes, and mannequins. Crystal balls competed with mason jars that had labels handwritten in a spidery script: bat liver, ground Siberian caribou antler, condensed whale milk. Nick tried to avoid staring.
"Come!" Madame B. commanded. She glanced over her shoulder at Nick's grandfather. "He's handsome, with those eyes just like his mama." Looking back at Nick, she said, "Happy birthday, my darling."
"Thanks." Nick tried to look over his own shoulder at Grandpa. He wanted to ask, Who is this crazy person? But he was quickly whisked behind a dark curtain and half-pushed into a huge velvet chair. Nick felt as though he had sunk almost to the floor.
Grandpa ducked through the curtain, too. He and Madame B. sat on the other side of a small, round table covered with a blood red satin, tablecloth. Grandpa's and Madame B.'s chairs weren't quite as squishy as Nick's so they seemed to sit up much higher than he did, peering down at him like a specimen under a microscope. Nick squirmed.
Madame B. reached into a large, black leather bag and pulled out a crystal ball the size of an ostrich egg. She set it on a brass pedestal engraved with hieroglyphics.
"Look," Madame B. commanded, drawing out the word with an exotic accent when she spoke. She tapped a long, red-varnished nail against the crystal ball. "Tell us vhat you see."
"Well, I can't ..." sputtered Nick, thinking this had to be the strangest birthday ever, which, considering he was with Grandpa, was saying a lot. "I don't know how—"
"Shh!" the old woman hissed. "You can. Look. Loooook!"
Nick stared meaningfully at Grandpa. They had to be kidding him. His father always said, in a town full of showgirls and oddballs, some of them were out of "central casting"—meaning Madame B. probably thought she was in a movie. But more likely, she was just crazy.
"Try, Nick," Grandpa urged. "For me."
Sighing and fidgeting in his seat, Nick rolled his eyes, then leaned forward as best he could in the chair to stare at the crystal ball. All he saw was his own face reflected back, distorted, while Grandpa and the crazy magic-shop owner seemed to look back at him with pin-dot heads showing through the other side, as if he was watching them through fun house glass.
"I don't see anything. There, you happy?" He flopped back in his chair.
"Nooooooooooooo," the old woman batted her long caterpillar-like lashes. She looked at Grandpa and snapped, "Gustav, I hope you are right about this one."
"Trust me," he said.
Nick exhaled loudly. He hated when grown-ups talked about him when he was right there. "Right about what?"
"Look," Madame B. said. "You must breathe deeply, like this." She took a big breath. "Then, you look with your mind, not your eyes. Easy." She snapped her fingers. "I used to gaze in it for the Tsarina. Eet's a good ball. Try."
Feeling hungry—and frustrated—Nick tried again. He took a deep breath and peered into the crystal ball. He tried not to focus on how ridiculous his face was reflected in it, but instead gazed inside his mind, kind of like daydreaming—which his teachers always complained he was exceedingly good at doing during class.
Suddenly, Nick saw a flash. He jumped, quickly moving his head from left to right as if to shake the images from his mind.
"He can see!" Madame B. whispered loudly. "Tell us, my leetle one. Tell us."
Nick blinked hard several times. The crystal ball was foggy now, but he could make out a scene. His temples pounded, and for a minute, he thought he might throw up. The room felt hot. "I see ..." He squinted. "I see a desert. It must be Las Vegas."
"Never assume, zaychik," the old woman warned.
"Sand. Lots of sand. It has to be Vegas. And there's ... the sphinx. It's Vegas. The Luxor Hotel."
"Do you see neon?" Grandpa asked.
"Hmm, funny." Nick looked hard. "I don't. Wait ... there's a pyramid. And camels."
Grandpa leaned forward. "Go ahead, Nick, what else?"
"And ... and there's a man, in robes. And around him are men with swords."
Grandpa slapped Madame B. on the arm. "I told you!" he beamed.
"He's ... there are birds around him. The men are cutting the birds' heads off with swords." He pressed forward, his nose almost touching the ball. "And he's making them come alive again. The man in the robes. It's a trick—an illusion. He's a magician!"
Nick's head ached, and he fell back against the chair feeling strangely tired. The crystal ball looked like a regular glass ball again. "What happened?"
"A vonderful thing," Madame B. smiled at him. "A most miraculous thing. Our world has been waiting for you, child. You, Nicholai Rostov, have the gift."
Excerpted from Magickeepers by Erica Kirov. Copyright © 2010 Erica Kirov. Excerpted by permission of Sourcebooks, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
1. A Less-Than-Stellar Birthday Report Card
2. A Gift, the Gift
3. The All-You-Can-Ask Buffet
4. The Family Tree
5. This Can't Be Breakfast?!
6. Revelations and Advertisements
7. Just a Dip in the Pool
8. Some Answers and a Return
9. A Pair of Vaults
10. A Horse of Gold
11. Grandpa's Triumphant Return
12. Accelerated Training
13. A Great Deal on a Dancing Bear!
14. Who Sneaks into a Library During the Summer?
15. An Unlikely Meeting
16. Sometimes All You Need Is a Little Push
17. An Imperial History Lesson
18. Some Questions Are Better Left Unanswered
19. Houdini's Last Trick
20. A Bargain Struck
21. A Mother's Choice
22. A Rose of a Different Hue
23. The Key and the Egg
25. Fire, Water, Wind, and Sand
26. No Going Back
27. A Prince Rises
About the Author
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This was an interesting book packed with historical facts (some spot on and others tweaked to fit the book). The author mixes fiction and nonfiction in an engaging way. I enjoyed the book and look forward to the next one. Nick is a fantastic main character, this book is a must read for the Harry Potter fan.
The blurb on the back is quite deceiving because it says, "What would you do for an hourglass that stopped time." and that makes it sound like the book will be about what someone does in order to obtain this object, but that's not exactly what the book is about. The Eternal Hourglass is book one in the Magickeepers series. Nick Rostov is a 13 year old boy whose father is a very unsuccessful magician living and working in Las Vegas. On his thirteenth birthday, Nick finds out some information that will change his life forever. He then spends the rest of the book trying to figure out what the key hung around his neck actually opens, and how to stay ahead of the Shadowkeepers, and thus, stay alive.
Series Review:I really enjoyed the Magickeeper series! It's written for ages 8-14, but even I got really into it and enjoyed it a lot. The stories were both woven well, with plenty of mystery and suspense to keep you reading. Once I started to read, it was hard to put it down. I never knew what to expect and was always surprised. It was like walking through a fun-house: you never knew what was going to be around the corner.My favorite characters had to be Nick and Isabella, followed closely by Isabella's pet tiger, Sascha. Sascha was just a really cool tiger. Vladimir, the hedgehog, was pretty cool, too. It was fun to watch Nick and Isabella together: they balanced each other well and would be fun people to be around. I wish they were real so we could hang out. Haley why would you want to hang out with thirteen-year-olds? Because they're magician thirteen-year-olds who can disappear and fly and look into crystal balls, and have more adventure in a day that I have in a month.The writing was good and easy to read and easy to follow, but some of the structure was a little confusing at times. It didn't take away form the action and adventure, though. I really liked the Russian culture incorporated into the stories. It wasn't overdone, but it was really fun to read the descriptions of the foods and the clothes and the decorations, and learn about some of the traditions. In the second book, The Pyramid of Souls, there was a lot of other cultures incorporated into it as well, because there were Magickeepers from Egypt and Nigeria and a Parisian clan, and Australians¿ so there were a lot of cool things that went on that we wouldn't normally think about¿even in the world of magic.I look forward to the next book in the Magickeeper series! The Eternal Hourglass came out in paperback on March 31, 2010 and The Pyramid of Souls was just published in hardback on May 1st, 2010.Content/Recommendation: clean, and suitable for ages 8-16(-ish). I'm 18 and I enjoyed it, and parents would enjoy reading the books out loud to their kids as well!
Nick is an ordinary kid in Las Vegas but on his 13th day his grandfather takes him to a magic shop where a woman asks him to look into a crystal ball. Nick sees something thus confirming he has `the gift¿. Suddenly his life changes and he goes to live with his dead mother¿s relatives in a Las Vegas hotel where he eats strange food, learns Russian and regularly encounters tigers. He also learns to do magic (not stage magic like his father, but real magic) and that he is one of a long line of Magickeepers whose task is to guard magic items from the evil Shadowkeepers.A mixture of adventure, mystery and fantasy, this book (the first in a series) is promoted as being for lovers of Harry Potter. Whilst the books are similar the characters in The Eternal Hourglass aren¿t as engaging as Harry and his friends. Recommended for fantasy lovers 9 and up.
Nick is the son of the worst magician on or off the Vegas strip, and has spent his life living in Las Vegas hotels. On his thirteenth birthday Nick¿s grandfather takes him to a Magical Curiosity Shoppe where he is given the chance to look into a crystal ball, which is a total hoax, at least that¿s what he thinks at the time. When he looks into the ball he is able to see far back in time. Not long after this he learns that magic is real, and that he is one of a long line of Magickeepers. Nick finds himself hunted by the Shadowkeeper because of a key left to him by his mother. Follow Nick as he fights to uncover the secret left to him by his mother and tries to rescue the rest of his family. This book moved a little slowly for me, and the main character was a little flat there was not much personal growth in this first book; but that is probably because of the authors need to establish a history. I look forward to the next book in this series as I hope to see more interesting character developments and new adventures.
You'd think having your birthday on the last day of school would be fun, but when your report card is dismal, you live in a hotel, and your father is the worst magician in all of Vegas? Eh.It all changes of course, when Nick's Grandfather gives him a key and the best magician in Vegas whisks him off to meet his extended family, which is full of magic. Real magic, not just illusion and trick.Not only is Nick expected to learn magic instead of sleep in on his summer vacation, he has to learn Russian, too. On top of this, there are some serious bad guys out there who are trying to steal magic and use it for evil. So much for skateboarding all summer...Kirov interweaves a lot of Russian culture, food and history (Princess Anastasia and Rasputin play major roles) in a solid adventure story complete with crystal balls, flying swords, tigers, and an hour glass that stops time.This book really sets up the series and I'm looking forward to the next one. It looks like a lot of the adult characters that Nick is meeting have both their good sides and bad sides, which is exciting. While Nick's family are the "good guys" it's apparent that they obtained many of the magical artifacts they're so carefully guarding through trickery or outright theft. Lots of murky morality to discuss. Combined with the magic and adventure (a great book for boys!) this is an excellent candidate for book discussion groups. I'm very much looking forward to the next books in the series.For reasons I can't fully explain, this book reminds me of Alcatraz Versus The Evil Librarians. They are similar in the fact that "boy meets a ton of distant cousins with crazy powers and goes on adventures to save the world" way, but that's similar to a lot of books. Nick never talks to the reader the way Alcatraz does, but there is something about each book that I think if you like one, you'll like the other.
I thought it was ok. Not bad, but not great.
Son of a theatrical magician, Nick is familiar with parlor and magical illusion that can appear as magic. On his 13th birthday, though, he awakens on the top floor of the Winter Palace Hotel and Casino only to meet, for the first time, his extended family. Exiled from Russia, these real magicians hide in plain sight among the neon lights of the casino. He learns that he has the gift of sight - the ability to see into the past. He also finds out that he is one of the ancient Magickeepers, charged with finding and guarding arcane artifacts from the evil Shadowkeepers. Apprenticed to Las Vegas star magician and chief Magickeeper Damian, Nick moves into the clan's palatial casino headquarters to begin his training, feeling cramped by their Tsarist lifestyle. When the family finds out that Rasputin, their most powerful enemy - who after half a century of hunting for the secret to the Eternal Hourglass is in Las Vegas - big trouble starts brewing. Believing that Nick holds the secret key to the Hourglass, Rasputin will stop at nothing to get what he wants so that he can stop time and fulfill his evil plans. Using his magic to see into the past, Nick must find a way to unravel the mystery of the Eternal Hourglass and stop Rasputin. Can he get a handle on his own powers in time to save his family and the world? THE ETERNAL HOURGLASS is a well-paced, fun fantasy adventure. The characters are well-developed, and the intermixed magic is well-crafted. The plot is intense and holds the reader's interest from start to finish. Readers who like fantasy, adventure, and mystery will all enjoy this one!