- Age Range: 8 - 12 years
- Series: Eidolon Chronicles (Book 1)
- Hardcover: 336 pages
- Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing; First Printing edition (April 11, 2006)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1416907122
- ISBN-13: 978-1416907121
- Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 6.1 x 1.1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 10 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,687,310 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Secret Country (Eidolon Chronicles) Hardcover – April 11, 2006
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From School Library Journal
Grade 4-7-When a talking cat convinces Ben to purchase it from Mr. Dodds's Pet Emporium, the boy has no idea what adventures await him. Except for his one green and one brown eye, Ben seems a perfectly normal child with two sisters, a journalist father, and a mysteriously ailing mother. After a unicorn turns up at a cricket match and a wood-sprite appears in his garden, Ben finds himself enmeshed in the fate of Eidolon, the Secret Country. As each chapter unfolds, the mythic significance of seemingly ordinary events and characters deepens. Mr. Dodds, who is kidnapping creatures such as selkies and dragons from Eidolon, turns out to be a supremely evil figure from ancient legend, with Ben's Awful Uncle Aleister as his partner in crime. Wishing to help the displaced, sickened creatures return home, Ben finds the wild road that leads there and eventually goes himself. Looking through his green eye, he sees a once-beautiful magical world now corrupted and dying. He learns that his mother was queen of the Secret Country, and that he, as its prince, must try to save it from Mr. Dodds's usurpation. This readable, accessible fantasy, with its likable and all-too-human young hero, is reminiscent of C. S. Lewis's Narnia stories (HarperCollins). The writing is smooth and clear, and the action flows quickly, enlivened by touches of humor. Black-and-white cartoon sketches head each chapter. The wide-open ending presages a sequel.-Margaret A. Chang, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, North Adams
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Gr. 4-7. Iggy, a talking cat in Mr. Dodds' Pet Emporium, convinces 12-year-old Ben Arnold to buy him, and tells Ben about a land of magic called Eidolon, from which Iggy has been kidnapped. The cat and boy discover that with the help of Ben's evil uncle, Mr. Dodds is capturing and transporting magical creatures to modern-day Britain in a plot to weaken their magic and the magic of Eidolon. Ben also learns that he is the Prince of Eidolon, that his ailing mother is the country's long-lost queen, and that he and his two sisters are prophesied to save their mother and the magical world. Humor as well as adventure and danger abound in an entrancing start to the Eidolon Chronicles. Sally Estes
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Because she is committed to moving her story along quickly, Johnson tends to "tell" more than she "shows" in the early pages of the story. Her hero tells a lot about his family before you get to see much of them in action. The cat narrates the whole background of Eidolon in one gulp. And yet it takes the protagonist a long, long time -- almost the whole book -- to figure out what his mother's situation is, something that is obvious to the reader quite early on. Maybe Johnson wants her reader to have the satisfaction of being smarter than her hero!
The main reservation I have about this book is that it is not terribly original -- though the books it echoes are wonderful books. In tone, it recalls Nesbit's fantasy books of 100 years ago. In plot and theme (and unfortunately its attitude toward girls) it mimics C.S. Lewis. Some of the details are (sorry, Jane Johnson, but you should know better!) too similar to Harry Potter. The "My Father's Dragon" books also came to mind several times, as did the works of Alan Garner and Susan Cooper and Dodie Smith and so on. (The little references to Tolkien, on the other hand, were charming.)
Still, this is a fine read, and I look forward to the sequels.
Ignatius Sorvo Coromandel, Iggy for short, also known as the Wanderer, has quite a story for Ben. He is from another world, a world called Eidolon. A world full of exotic, mythical, talking creatures. A world that is slowly dying and losing its magic. Someone is stealing creatures out of Eidolon and selling them in Ben's world. Each time a creature leaves, the magic is less. And each time one dies, which happens shortly after they enter our world, more magic disappears.
The most amazing part of all, aside from the talking cat thing, is that Iggy claims Ben's mother is the Queen of Eidolon! That's why Ben can understand Iggy, and the other strange creatures that are beginning to appear in random places. That means that Ben is a prince and his two sisters are princesses! And that's why Ben's mom is getting sick.
If Ben can go to Eidolon, he might be able to help save both the world and his mom. First, he'll have to escape Mr. Dodds and Awful Uncle Aliester, who are bad enough in the regular world and ten times worse in Eidolon. Not to mention Cousin Sylvia and her creepy hairless cat. Then he'll have to navigate a completely foreign land where he can't be sure who to trust.
Mythical creatures and huge battles are all well and fun in books, but living through them is a whole different story!
I love this book, in every way possible! The plot is interesting and moves along at a perfect pace, fast enough to keep you interested but not so much so that you get confused. It's written simply, but never in a way that makes you feel silly. The characters, even the creatures, are extremely interesting and realistic. The part I like best though, is that there is a great sense of humor throughout the story.
I love it. My six-year-old nephew loves it. My ten-year-old niece loves it. You can't ask for more than that.
Reviewed by: Carrie Spellman
Written in third person, Jane Johnson A.K.A/ Gabriel King A.K.A/ Jude Fisher, takes the reader through an enchanting tale of the adventures of a boy named Ben Christopher Arnold, who, in his infancy, accidently changed the color of his right eye. Then, some years in the future, he sets his sights on two Mongolian Fighting Fish. When he finally raises the money, he is 'convinced' by a talking cat, to buy it instead. The cat, Ignatius Sorvo Coromandel, (you can call him Iggy) turns out to be from another world, and 'wandered' into Ben's (Note: This does take place on earth) world, where he was promptly kidnapped. Everything from there onward is perfect blend of adventure, humor, horror, possible romance, and friendship. This is a genius book for both boys and girls, and a sequel is in the making. This is a must read for anyone who likes: fantasy, action, cats, dogs, most magical creatures and talking cockroaches.