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Practically Paradise
Inside Practically Paradise

MagicKeepers: The Eternal Hourglass Book One by Erica Kirov

Best cover of the year so far: MagicKeepers: The Eternal Hourglass Book One by Erica Kirov. Sourcebooks Jabberwocky. 2009. ISBN: 9781402215018 $14.99 

The design of this book makes it a book lover’s delight. I wish you could see and touch the entire cover of this book designed by Eric Fortune. The back is very different from the front but appeals to fantasy lovers.  Even the spine of this book makes me creatively satisfied. "Book 1" is at the top of the spine, the raised letters for the title MAGICKEEPERS are arranged perfectly for reading shelves, and there’s even a perfectly measured space for the spine label. It’s perfectly sized for my hands and for new readers to fantasy. An attractive cover that just begs students to pick it up.

What’s inside? Exotic locale, unusual characters, weird food, polar bears, tigers, magic, and a 13 year old boy suddenly discovering he is part of a Russian magical dynasty. Yes, fans of fantasy and history will be pleased with this new series by Erica Kirov. 

When this arrived, I ripped it out of the package and read it in one sitting. Then I wrote to the publisher to ask how long I have to wait for the next title in the series to come out. Erica Kirov has created a series with a large number of characters and many mysteries. This first book in the Magickeepers almost teases us with the questions it doesn’t answer. I’ll have to read the next one to determine exactly how I feel about Nick.

Thirteen year old Nick Rostov has just celebrated his birthday when he is magically yanked out of the hotel room where he lives with his father (a disappointingly inept magician). His 13th birthday has ended the protective spell cast by a friend of his mother’s shortly before her death. Sound familiar? Although some bloggers have mentioned this book will be popular among Harry Potter fans, there are major differences and it is no wanna-be. 

Instead we have an intricately crafted novel for middle graders (I’d give it to some of my 3rd graders and up) which manages to stay around 250 pages. This first title in the new series introduces us to many new characters in Nick’s family and to historical figures, but it doesn’t attempt to answer all of our questions. Instead we have a mystery to solve with a magical hourglass to save from the evil Shadowkeepers and the historical villain Rasputin. 

The need for Nick to quickly master many magic skills and outwit the bad guys left me a little stunned. There wasn’t much time for character development and Nick remains through most of this novel a whiny teen who’d rather be eating cheeseburgers and pizza and skateboarding through his lazy summer vacation. I’d like to see more development of the other key characters like his cousin Isabella. 

In total, I think this title will be picked up many times and passed around the fantasy fans. There is much promise in the series and I’ll have to read the next to see where in history the next mystery will intertwine.

Check out the author’s blog and the book website, I’m going to have to keep checking back as Erica tells readers which facts are historically accurate. She began with some links to the Faberge eggs. The Enchanted Ink pot has an interview with author Erica Kirov.

There’s an excellent review on Cafe of Dreams. Teen Ricki Marking-Camuto reviewed this on BookLoons. Tonya shares more details on Charlotte’s Library. Laura Amos reviewed it on YABooksCentralEva’s Book Addiction added some of her concerns while Booking Mama raved about the main character Nick.  

Note about cover illustrator Eric Fortune. From his website we learn his "work provides a beautifully rendered visual that provokes the viewer and pulls them in for closer inspection…The imagery is quiet and dynamic often with a touch of melancholy and soft surrealism." I think that’s a good description of this cover.