Sunday, September 19, 2010

Anne Ursu, The Shadow Thieves and The Siren Song

These are the first two books in a new trilogy that I hadn't heard of: I came across The Shadow Thieves while browsing my local library. The cover isn't very appealing, but the title was intriguing, and as soon as I read the first page I knew I'd like this author. She's funny, snarky, and her characters are very real. Here's a sample:

So, sometimes really bad things happen and, for reasons that are rather complicated, you're the only one who can stop them. And sometimes, in order to do so, you have to sneak out of the house late at night to get to the Underworld. And on those occasions, you, because you are a conscientious person, leave your parents a note explaining that you know what's making everyone sick and you have to go save the world. Helpfully, you also tell them you love them and not to worry.
The problem is, your parents don't really listen to this last part, and when you finally get back the next morning . . . after Philonecron tried to throw you in the Styx, a few monsters tried to eat you, you met up with the Lord of the Underworld, and a whole shadow army tried to bring his palace down on your head--well, you find out that they have, in fact, worried. A lot.

That's from the second book, The Siren Song, when we discover that after Charlotte and her cousin Zee successfully save the world from the evil Philonecron (who is stealing children's shadows to create an army to defeat Hades), her parents ground her forever.

Yes, this is another book using Greek mythology in a modern setting. The difference between The Chronus Chronicles and the Percy Jackson series is that Charlotte and Zee are not demigods. They don't suddenly develop magical powers, and when they get thrown into the world of myth they have to defeat the bad guys with courage, luck, and stubbornness. And their parents don't understand. The plots are fairly original, the mythological people are fun (Poseidon sails around the Mediterranean on a very tacky luxury yacht), and there's enough action and adventure to keep the pages turning, but what I loved about these books was how convincing the main characters were. Plus the voice: loved the voice. (But then I'm a sucker for snarky humour.)

These books are like chocolate- and peanut butter- covered pretzels: sweet and salty and addictive. Worth being better known. Now I have to convince my library to get the third book.


  1. K, I'm going to love your blog! Not that I read any of the books that you recommend for megan (and karlyn) but I just love seeing megan gobbling up books like water... she actually has a few books to recommend to you, now, in fact, since she got herself an updated library card, and is now reading two and three books a week! She is quickly learning the concept that you can't always judge a book by its cover...

  2. Oh, I love these books! I feel like they got overshadowed by Rick Riordan's series, so I'm glad you've discovered them.

  3. Yes, I'm glad my library had them, because they're not stocked at the local Chapters. And thanks for commenting, because now I've discovered your blog, and you've reviewed some great-sounding books!