Passages Volume 1: The Marus Manuscripts

Passages Volume 1: The Marus Manuscripts

by Paul McCusker


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Arin’s Judgment: One minute, Wade Mullins is at home, attempting to destroy top-secret drawings for the atomic bomb. The next minute, he’s in an alternate world staring at a strange prophet who says Wade is the final sign, an end-time omen of a culture on the verge of annihilation.

Darien’s Rise: Anna wanted superpowers, but now she’s not so sure after being transported to a new planet. She sees visions of the future. And her brother Kyle is a bodyguard who can’t fail. But both of their powers are only used to help Darien, the rightful heir to the throne of Marus. Darien is being held by a man so evil, not even Anna and Kyle can save him.

Annison’s Risk: Maddy finds herself in a strange new land called Marus where a conquering king is about to marry a princess. The king’s most trusted adviser is hatching an evil plot to stamp out followers of the “old faith,” and Maddy discovers that plan includes the new princess. Should Maddy reveal the truth and usher in political chaos? Or will the princess have to give up her life to bring peace?

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781589977501
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers
Publication date: 06/01/2013
Pages: 464
Sales rank: 556,040
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.30(d)
Age Range: 8 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt


The Marus Manuscripts VOLUME 1



Copyright © 2012Focus on the Family
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-58997-750-1



Kyle and Anna pressed on through the thick, green forest.

"Come on!" Kyle ordered his younger sister impatiently.

Anna had been snagged by the wild underbrush. "I'm going as fast as I can," she insisted. "Why don't they have paths in these woods?"

"Because they're old woods, and nobody comes here anymore," Kyle answered. "You remember what Uncle Bill said. Now hurry up!"

"Uncle Bill might have been pulling our leg," Anna said. She broke free from the underbrush. Old twigs snapped like firecrackers under her feet. "Slow down, Kyle!" she called as she raced to catch up.

Kyle slowed a little, but not enough for Anna to notice. He was a stubborn 12-year-old who would never openly concede to doing something nice for his 10-year-old sister.

She puffed irritably behind him. "I knew this would happen," she said. "I should have stayed with Grandma."

"And get bored stiff," Kyle reminded her.

Anna didn't respond. Kyle was right. Since they'd come to Odyssey to stay with their grandparents at the beginning of the summer, they'd been bored. As a couple of "city kids," they found it hard to cope with the slower pace and less-sophisticated pleasures of a small town. Their grandparents did their best to keep the two kids active, but there was only so much that could hold their interest. Kyle and Anna finally admitted to themselves that they'd made a big mistake when they let their parents talk them into going to Odyssey for a month.

A glimmer of hope arose, however, when their uncle Bill came to visit just last evening and told them about an old, mysterious house in the middle of the woods. He said it had been empty for years. Some said it was haunted, others that it was magical, while still others claimed it once belonged to an eighteenth-century pirate who'd buried his treasure in the garden. "Whatever it is," Uncle Bill said, "it might be a fun way to pass the time."

Both Grandma and Grandpa pooh-poohed the story. Neither of them could remember an old house in the woods. But Uncle Bill insisted it was there, not far from Darien's Creek in what they called the Black Forest.

Kyle was immediately intrigued and wanted Uncle Bill to draw a map. Uncle Bill scribbled directions as well as he could remember them—he hadn't been there since he was a child, he admitted. Kyle said he would go the next day if it was all right with his grandparents.

"Sure, you can go," his grandfather said. "But you won't find anything."

Anna didn't agree to go with Kyle until the next morning. She didn't really want to, but she thought it would be better than holding Grandma's yarn while she knitted. Now—in the middle of the hot and humid Black Forest—she thought of that yarn and a tall glass of lemonade and wished she'd stayed behind in spite of the boredom.

Kyle tripped on a rock and fell, getting covered in dark mulch. Dead leaves stuck to his close-cropped, blond hair. Two circles of wet dirt formed on the knees of his jeans. "I'll bet nobody's walked through here in years," he said happily.

Anna didn't understand her brother. How could he be happy? It upset her to discover that her white sneakers were now a spotted brown. Her pants were streaked and smudged with dirt and decaying bark. She had torn the sleeve on her shirt. This expedition was turning into a disaster as far as she was concerned.

And what would they do if they didn't find a house? Worse, she thought, what if they did find it and it was all the things Uncle Bill had said? Maybe that pirate still haunted the house, scaring away strangers who hoped to dig up his treasure.

"That would be cool!" Kyle said when Anna told him her worries.

No, she didn't understand her brother at all.

Half an hour later, she was beyond trying to understand him and openly complained that it was time to go home. "The house doesn't exist," she said. "Uncle Bill was just teasing us."

Kyle wouldn't hear of it. "It's around here somewhere. It has to be."

Another half hour went by, and Anna began to worry out loud that they were lost.

"We're not lost!" Kyle snapped. "I never should have let you come along. All you do is gripe, gripe, gripe!"

"I want to go home," she said and abruptly sat down right where she was. "I'm tired and thirsty."

Kyle towered over her with his hands on his hips. "Then go home," he told her. "I don't care."

"I'll get lost," she said.

"That's not my problem."

"It will be if Mom and Dad find out you let me wander around alone in some strange woods."

He groaned.

"You know I'm right."

"You really get on my nerves," he said with a frown.

"That makes us even."

"Yeah, sure." Kyle glanced ahead longingly. He wanted to go on. But he had to admit—not out loud, though—that he was getting tired too. He sighed deeply, then said casually, "Okay, let's go back. But first you'd better knock that bug out of your hair."

Anna had long, thick, brown hair and lived in horror that a bug would hide in it somewhere. One night before bed, she had brushed a small spider out of it. She had screamed loudly enough to wake up the neighbors. The police had come. She'd had nightmares for a week.

If there had been any sleeping neighbors in these woods—or police—the situation would have repeated itself. She screamed out one long note, leaped to her feet, and danced wildly while flicking her hair with both hands. "Get it out! Get it out!" she shrieked.

Of course the bug flew away the instant Anna moved, but that didn't stop her from screaming, dancing, and flicking for a full seven minutes.

As Kyle tried to calm her down, he caught a glimpse of the house through the trees.

* * *

"This is incredible!" Kyle exclaimed. "I told you we'd find it!"

The house stood awkwardly in an area so thick with trees that the sunlight couldn't break through. It looked completely out of place.

"What's it doing here?" Anna whispered. "It's like it got lost from all the other houses and died here. Why would anyone want to build a house in the middle of nowhere?"

"I don't know," Kyle said breathlessly as he circled around to the front. It was everything Uncle Bill had said: big, empty, and mysterious. Part of it reminded him of an English castle, with walls made of large blocks of uncut stone and a tower sticking up from the corner. It had round, arched windows leading up to a conelike roof. Then it was as if the builder had gotten bored with that idea and decided to do something else. The rest of the house looked Gothic, with decorative gables, ornamental shingles, and shuttered windows jutting out of long walls. The porch was framed by intricate molding on the rails between the slim posts. It surrounded three sides of the house as if it were a belt meant to hold it all together.

Kyle's imagination went wild with images of pirates, secret meetings, and treasure. "Maybe Darien's Creek used to be a big river that led to the sea," he said. "I'll bet the pirates brought their ships in and hid here."

"Pirates?" Anna asked with a loud gulp. She hadn't forgotten the image of the ghost of a captain protecting his booty.

They slowly approached the steps leading up to the long front porch. Closer now, they could see how dark and dirty the place was. Windows were broken out. A tree had fallen and smashed through a wall on the far side. Portions of the roof had collapsed, the wood having given up its strength and decomposed a long time ago. Kyle reached the front door. It was made of heavy wood, worn and scarred, with panels of glazed glass, most of which were shattered.

"This is great!" Kyle said.

Anna lingered behind. She didn't believe in haunted houses, but this looked too much like the kind she'd seen in the movies.

"I don't like it," she groaned. "Let's go home." She knew Kyle wouldn't listen to her. He never listened to her. Nobody did, as far as she was concerned. She was just a little girl without a voice.

He tried the door handle. It turned, and the door opened with a loud creaking sound. Kyle winced at the smells of rotten wood, mold, and animal droppings.

Anna stayed by the steps. "Kyle!" she called.

"Stay out here if you want to," he said. He was turned away from her, so she couldn't see his wry smile. "I'm sure the bugs will leave your hair alone."

Anna hurried to Kyle's side and held on to his arm.

The house looked as bad on the inside as it did on the outside. Cobwebs clung to the corners of the cracked ceiling and chipped plaster walls. Black smudges outlined the places where framed pictures had once hung. Leaves swirled and spread across the floor like brown fairies. Nests of branches and bush filled some of the corners and the fireplaces.

"Cool," Kyle whispered.

The lower floor was made up of what was once a spacious living room, a library (with collapsed bookshelves), a dining room that led into what must have been the kitchen, and a small pantry. After their tour, Anna insisted that they go home.

"Not yet," Kyle said. "Not until I see the whole house." He started walking up the stairs. They protested with creaks and groans.

Anna looked around nervously and knew they'd made a mistake. They shouldn't have come here. Why didn't Uncle Bill learn to keep his mouth closed? Why couldn't she make Kyle listen to her?

"Hey! Is anybody here?" Kyle suddenly called out when they reached the top of the stairs.

Anna jumped. "Are you trying to give me a heart attack?" she protested.

"Do you hear that?" he asked her softly, cocking his ear.

"Hear what?"

He hesitated as he listened again. "Voices. I hear someone talking."

"You're trying to scare me," Anna said nervously.

"No, I'm serious," Kyle said, then crept along the second floor. "Back here."

"I don't hear anything."

They passed a couple of open doors that led into what were probably bedrooms. Their condition was the same as that of the rooms on the first floor.

"I don't like this," Anna whispered again. The floor beneath her felt wobbly. They were walking on loose boards. Kyle ignored her and pressed on down the corridor. He stopped at a closed door.

"In here," Kyle said softly. Putting his ear against the rotten wood, he listened, then whispered, "Someone's in here."

Anna watched her brother carefully. Was he teasing her, or had he been out in the woods too long?

"Can't you hear them?"

"No," she replied sullenly.

Kyle shot her an annoyed look, then knelt down and peeked in the keyhole. His eyes grew wider than she'd ever seen them. He gasped. "There are people in there!"

"Cut it out, Kyle," she demanded. "You're not funny." All her instincts told her to run away as fast as she could. But she didn't dare. She knew he'd never stop teasing her for falling for his joke.

He continued in a low whisper, "It's so weird! They're dressed in old-fashioned clothes. Like ... like ... uniforms and ..." He couldn't find the words to describe it and gave up. "The room is full of furniture and paintings and ..." His voice trailed off. "This doesn't make any sense. How can there be a room like this in an abandoned house?"

Anna tugged at his arm. "Let's get out of here!" she begged.

"But you have to see this," he insisted.

"I don't care! Let's go before we get in trouble!"

"Look first. I want to prove I'm not crazy." He stepped back so she could see into the keyhole.

Anna figured the only way to get Kyle out of the house was to do what he said. She bent down to look. At first she didn't see anything. She squinted and looked again. The room was there, but it was as empty and run-down as the rest of the house. "I don't see anything," she said.

"Look harder!" Kyle whispered.

She did. The room was still empty and run-down. "Kyle—" she began to say.

Suddenly they heard a loud crack. The floorboards beneath Kyle's feet buckled, then gave way. Kyle shouted as he fell backward. His hands clawed at the air. Anna reached for him, but it was too late. He crashed through the floor.

Anna crawled on her hands and knees to the edge of the gaping hole of old wood and splinters. "Kyle!" she screamed.

She couldn't see below. The hole was black except for a swirling cloud that Anna thought was dust from the ceiling plaster. The cloud spun around and around but didn't clear. If Kyle was down there, Anna couldn't figure out where he was.

"Kyle! Are you all right?" she called out. He didn't answer. Certain he was hurt, Anna got to her feet to run to the stairs. The floorboards in front of her also cracked loudly. The whole floor is going to cave in, she thought. She stepped back, pressed herself against the wall, then slid along to the closed bedroom door. "Kyle!" she cried.

She felt for the doorknob and prayed it wasn't locked, suddenly desperate for someplace safe. It turned easily. She pushed the door open and carefully inched backward into the room, turned on her heel to walk in, and was suddenly engulfed in a bright, white light.

Nobody ever listens to me was the last thing she thought before the light drew her in.


Excerpted from PASSAGES by PAUL MCCUSKER. Copyright © 2012 by Focus on the Family. Excerpted by permission of TYNDALE HOUSE PUBLISHERS, 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


Book 1: Darien's Rise...........     1     

Book 2: Arin's Judgment.........     179     

Book 3: Annison's Risk..........     333     

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Passages Volume 1: The Marus Manuscripts 4.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
pinkgirlLS More than 1 year ago
These stories are amazing. They are based on Bible stories but are changed in creative ways. They are so well written that I love to read them to my kids. I really get into the stories. They aren't cheesy at all. We're just now finishing the last of the series. I have girls from 2-8 yrs. who love listening to them.
givemethebible More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. It drew me in from the very beginning. It was really cool to be able to identify familiar people from the Bible in each story.
Louisa_May More than 1 year ago
This is actually 3 books in one and I was so excited when it came out!  Each book is about different children throughout different time periods in Odyssey's history who end up finding themselves in another world (reminiscent of Narnia). The world, Marus, parallels the bible in which each book is a bible story come to life, though with a very different setting and intriguing twists.  My favorite book within Passages Volume I is "Darien's Rise".  My church adapted this into a play and it was incredible!  The story tells about King David's rise--before he becomes king and after he is enthroned.  It's an incredible story, though I recommend all of them.  My children love them and they can't wait to read Volume 2!
rlighthouse More than 1 year ago
Awesome Book for Kids! Each story starts with a child in their own world and then somehow they end up transported to another world called Marus. If you pay attention details start to sound familiar. The first story in the book was the story of King David.  The second story was about Noah and the third was Queen Esther.  This book was another exciting way that Paul McCusker works to bring the Bible to life for kids.
KMarkovich More than 1 year ago
I found this book to be absolutely fascinating! It is 3 books in one – all dealing with another world in the land of Marus (they have 2 moons). In each story children from Odyssey end up in Marus. The first story has Kyle and Anna arriving in different areas of Marus – Kyle is with General Darrien and Anna is with the Old Judge. This is the story of King David and the Old Judge is Samuel. The second story is of Wade arriving in Marus and joining the family of Arin. This is the story of Noah. And the last story has Maddy becoming part of Annison’s court, the story of Esther. I loved these stories. Even though I have read all of these stories in the Bible the author Mr. McCusker brought to light so many things I had never thought of. He did change things to make them better suited for children but did a fabulous job of staying true to the story. Although this book is written for children – late elementary – they definitely are wonderful for adults as I thoroughly enjoyed them and have a richer understanding of the Biblical stories.
BeachNana8 More than 1 year ago
Passages is a wonderful book that gives you three stories in one book. Darien’s Rise is an exciting story of princes and kings, loyalty and betrayal, capture and escape, visions and God’s help, life and death. 10 year old Anna has dreams and visions that help her and her brother escape capture. They make daring raids, get supplies, and survive despite attackers. How long can they successfully outwit their enemies? Will help arrive in time? In Arin’s Judgment boys attack another boy Wade because they wrongfully assumed Wade’s father loved Germans when he really was fighting for America in the South Pacific. It's a different telling of the story of Noah. The third story, Annison’s Risk, is the story of the marriage of beautiful Annison to King Willem that will unite the people of Palatia with those of Marus. A good man Simet, a castle guard, tries to protect Annison and Maddy from evil Lord Hector who is plotting to poison the king. To kill Simet, Lord Hector persuades the king to outlaw the Old Faith. Not knowing Annison and Simet are members of the Old Faith, the king gives Lord Hector his wish to kill all people of the Old Faith. But Maddy helps Annison and ultimately the good people defeat the bad. Do you recognize the story of Esther? All of the stories start in Odyssey and then have the children end up in the new world of Marus.
J4Life5 More than 1 year ago
I was already a fan of Paul McCusker's writing for kids from the Imagination Station books he has co-written with Marianne Hering, so I was excited to read this one. I was a little hesitant because I am not typically a fan of fantasy stories with made-up places, but I really enjoyed this book. McCusker's writing is easy to read, the plots move along quickly, and the characters are engaging, especially to the target audience. The best part about this book is that it includes three stories in one. It feels like a bonus to read from one to the next without having to stop and get another book! I love the way that McCusker takes Bible stories and retells them in a way that makes them easily accessible for younger readers. It reminds me of the way Francine Rivers does the same thing for adults. For me, it makes the Bible stories more personal and gives me a greater appreciation and understanding of them when I go back and read them in the Bible. This is a great book for younger readers (the target age is 8-12), especially if they are reluctant readers. It is a very quick and interesting read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Passages Volume 1: The Marus Manuscripts is a reprinted version of the first three Passages books now combined into one volume. Each of the Passages books is written about a child (or children) from Odyssey ending up traveling to an alternate world called Marus (in a style similar to The Chronicles of Narnia books). The Passages stories are retellings of real Biblical stories, but this time in the fantasy world of Marus where the stories are written with a new perspective and with new twists. Book #1 Darien’s Rise is based on the story of David and Saul. It explores the importance of responding to God’s call. Book #2 Arin’s Judgment is based on the story of Noah. It explores the saving power of God. Book #3 Annison’s Risk is based on the story of Esther. It illustrates the power of our participation in God’s plan. I remember loving these books when I read them the first time as a preteen 9+ years ago and I still love them after rereading them now! Paul McCusker has done a wonderful job of creating the world of Marus and retelling Biblical stories in a new way. While it does help to know something about Adventures in Odyssey (I’m a fan of the show myself), it is not necessary to have listened to the show before. The books can still be understood without any previous knowledge of Odyssey. The books do have some violence and deaths in them, though, so I would recommend them with the books’ first editions age recommendation of 10 & up. I have enjoyed reading this series and I would definitely recommend it.
thedeena63 More than 1 year ago
This new packaging of the Passages novels is a great value. With this book you'll get to read "Darien's Rise", "Arin's Judgment" and "Annison's Risk". All three are excellent stories that put a fresh face on familiar Bible stories, and it's kind of fun trying to figure out which story is being retold! I enjoyed the three books, and I'm pleased to recommend this new updated version to readers.
AnotherBibliophile More than 1 year ago
Wow, What a Fascinating World the author created. These books have surprises, adventure, and a very imaginative fantasy world. It is presented as a real world where the children interact and become part of the events. There are battles, court intrigue, and valuable lessons, written in a fascinating way. Some youngsters may have to look up a few words, but that makes it a bit of a challenge, so the readers are more involved. I liked the fact that each of the three books in the set is complete in itself, no cliffhangers. I also enjoyed the faith lessons, the descriptions, and the interesting characters.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago