Children of the Lamp
Scholastic, June, 2005.
Trade paperback, 355 pages.
Ages 9 - 11
Twelve-year-old twins Philippa and John Gaunt live in New York City with their parents and their two dogs. As soon as they turned twelve, strange things began happening around them. When people wish things, somehow their wishes are coming true: and the twins feel exhausted afterwards. Their housekeeper just won the lottery, for example. And they always seem to be cold. Their mother immediately rushes them off to the dentist to have their wisdom teeth out, and while under the anasthesia, they hallucinate a visit from their eccentric Uncle Nimrod who dresses all in red and lives in London. He invites them to visit him for the summer. It turns out that John and Philippa are djinn (or genies) who have just come into their powers and Uncle Nimrod's message was no hallucination. The twins convince their parents to let them go to London for the summer. Uncle Nimrod takes them off to Egypt, where they are introduced to the ways of the djinn and must pass an initiation test. When an explorer reportedly finds the key to the lost tomb of the Pharoah Akhenaten the twins and Nimrod know that they must find the tomb before the evil djinns find it. The tomb contains enough trapped djinn to alter the balance of good and back luck in the world (the djinn are responsible for this balance) and if someone evil frees the djinn, the world will face chaos and disaster.
Philip Kerr is best known for his adult thrillers, but this imaginative new series is going to mark him as a top young adult author as well. Kerr takes the old stories about a genie in a bottle and turns them upside down and backwards. By making his tween protagonists djinn themselves, he adds another interesting dimension. Their mother, a powerful djinn who has sworn not to use her djinn powers, and their father, a (non-magical), very wealthy businessman, are quite appealing. In fact, the beautiful and somewhat mysterious Layla Gaunt could really use a prequel of her own someday. Kerr keeps the action moving and the dialogue snappy, making for an absolutely riveting read. The Akhenaten Adventure is only the first book in what promises to be a spectacular new young adult series.
--Claire E. White
Children of the Lamp is available for purchase on Amazon.com
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This review was published in the February, 2006 of The Internet Writing Journal.
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