The Fire Chronicle (Books of Beginning Series #2)

The Fire Chronicle (Books of Beginning Series #2)

by John Stephens


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After the tumultuous events of last winter, Kate, Michael, and Emma long to continue the hunt for their missing parents. But they themselves are now in great danger, and so the wizard Stanislaus Pym hides the children at the Edgar Allan Poe Home for Hopeless and Incorrigible Orphans. There, he says, they will be safe. How wrong he is. 

The children are soon discovered by their enemies, and a frantic chase sends Kate a hundred years into the past, to a perilous, enchanted New York City. Searching for a way back to her brother and sister, she meets a mysterious boy whose fate is intricately—and dangerously—tied to her own.

Meanwhile, Michael and Emma have set off to find the second of the Books of Beginning. A series of clues leads them into a hidden world where they must brave harsh polar storms, track down an ancient order of warriors, and confront terrible monsters. Will Michael and Emma find the legendary book of fire—and master its powers—before Kate is lost to them forever? 

Exciting, suspenseful, and brimming with humor and heart, the next installment of the bestselling Books of Beginning trilogy will lead Kate, Michael, and Emma closer to their family—and to the magic that could save, or destroy, them all.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780375872723
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Publication date: 08/27/2013
Series: Books of Beginning Series , #2
Pages: 448
Sales rank: 172,220
Product dimensions: 5.36(w) x 7.50(h) x 1.08(d)
Lexile: 780L (what's this?)
Age Range: 8 - 12 Years

About the Author

John Stephens is also the author of The Emerald Atlas, the first installment in the Books of Beginning trilogy.  John received his MFA from the University of Virginia, and went on to write and produce television for ten years.  During this time, he read His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman and fell in love with fantasy for young readers.  He spent the next several years waking at 4 AM every morning to write The Emerald Atlas before heading to work for the day.
John lives in Los Angeles with his wife and son and their dog, Bug. Visit to find out more about The Fire Chronicle, the Books of Beginning, and John.

Read an Excerpt

Kate finished writing the letter, sealed it in an envelope, then walked over and dropped it into the hollow of an old tree.

He’ll come, she told herself.

She’d written to him about her dream, the one that had yanked her out of sleep every night that week. Again and again, she’d lain there in the dark, covered in cold sweat and waiting for her heart to slow, relieved that Emma, lying beside her, hadn’t woken, relieved that it had only been a dream.

Except it wasn’t a dream; she knew that.

He’ll come, Kate repeated. When he reads it, he’ll come.

The day was hot and humid, and Kate wore a lightweight summer dress and a pair of patched leather sandals. Her hair was pulled back and cinched with a rubber band, though a few loose strands stuck to her face and neck. She was fifteen and taller than she’d been a year ago. In other respects, her appearance hadn’t changed. With her dark blond hair and hazel eyes, she still struck all who saw her as a remarkably pretty girl. But a person did not have to look closely to see the furrow of worry that was etched into her brow, or the tension that lived in her arms and shoulders, or the way her fingernails were bitten to the quick.

In that respect, truly, nothing had changed.

Kate had not moved from beside the tree, but stood there, absently fingering the gold locket that hung from her neck.

More than ten years earlier, Kate and her younger brother and sister had been sent away from their parents. They had grown up in a series of orphanages, a few that were nice and clean, run by kind men and women, but most of them not so nice, and the adults who ran them not so kind. The children had not been told why their parents had sent them away, or when they were coming back. But that their parents would eventually return, that they would all once more be a family, the children had never doubted.

It had been Kate’s duty to look after her brother and sister. She had made that promise the night her mother had come into her room that Christmas Eve so long ago. She could picture it still: her mother leaning over her, fastening the golden locket around her small neck, as Kate promised that she would protect Michael and Emma and keep them safe.

And year after year, in orphanage after orphanage, even when they had faced dangers and enemies they could never have imagined, Kate had been true to her word.

But if Dr. Pym didn’t come, how would she protect them now?

But he will come, she told herself. He hasn’t abandoned us.

If that’s so, said a voice in her head, why did he send you here?

And, unable to help herself, Kate turned and looked down the hill. There, visible through the trees, were the crumbling brick walls and turrets of the Edgar Allan Poe Home for Hopeless and Incorrigible Orphans.

In her defense, it was only when Kate was frustrated or tired that she questioned Dr. Pym’s decision to send her and Michael and Emma back to Baltimore. She knew he hadn’t really abandoned them. But the fact remained: of all the orphanages the children had lived in over the years—one of which had been next to a sewage treatment plant; another had made groaning noises and seemed to be always catching on fire—the Edgar Allan Poe Home for Hopeless and Incorrigible Orphans was the worst. The rooms were freezing in the winter, boiling in the summer; the water was brown and chunky; the floors squished and oozed; the ceilings leaked; it was home to warring gangs of feral cats. . . .

And as if that weren’t enough, there was Miss Crumley, the lumpy-bodied, Kate-and-her-brother-and-sister-hating orphanage director. Miss Crumley had thought she’d gotten rid of the children for good last Christmas, and she had been less than pleased to have them turn up on her doorstep a week later, bearing a note from Dr. Pym saying that the orphanage at Cambridge Falls had been closed due to “an infestation of turtles,” and would Miss Crumley mind watching the children till the problem was resolved.

Of course Miss Crumley had minded. But when she’d attempted to call Dr. Pym to inform him that under no circumstances could she accept the children and that she was returning them on the next train, she’d found that all the information Dr. Pym had previously given her (phone number for the orphanage, address and directions, testimonials from happy, well-fed children) had disappeared from her files. Nor did the phone company have any record of a number. In fact, no matter how much she dug, Miss Crumley was unable to find any evidence that the town of Cambridge Falls actually existed. In the end, she’d been forced to give in. But she let the children know that they were unwelcome, and she took every opportunity to corner them in the hallways or the cafeteria, firing questions while poking them with her pudgy finger.

“Where exactly is this Cambridge Falls?”—poke—“Why can’t I find it on any maps?”—poke—“Who is this Dr. Pym fellow?”—poke, poke—“Is he even a real doctor?”—poke, poke, poke—“What happened up there? I know something fishy’s going on! Answer me!”—poke, poke, poke, pinch, twist.

Frustrated at having had her hair pulled for the third time in one week, Emma had suggested that they tell Miss Crumley the truth: that Dr. Stanislaus Pym was a wizard, that the reason Miss Crumley couldn’t find Cambridge Falls on a map was that it was part of the magical world and therefore hidden from normal (or in her case, subnormal) humans, that as far as what had happened there, the three of them had discovered an old book bound in green leather that had carried them back through time, that they’d met dwarves and monsters, fought an evil witch, saved an entire town, and that pretty much any way you looked at it, they were heroes. Even Michael.

“Thanks,” Michael had said sarcastically.

“You’re welcome.”

“Anyway, we can’t say that. She’ll think we’re crazy.”

“So what?” Emma had replied. “I’d rather be in a loony bin than this place.”

But in the end, Kate had made them stick to their story. Cambridge Falls was an ordinary sort of place, Dr. Pym was an ordinary sort of man, and nothing the least bit out of the ordinary had happened. “We have to trust Dr. Pym.”

After all, Kate thought, what other choice did they have?

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

Starred Review, Publishers Weekly, October 8, 2012:
“Fans of The Emerald Atlas will find much to love: the adventure-driven plot, a scattering of deliciously scary moments, and Stephens’s offbeat take on Tolkienesque dragons, dwarves, and elves are sure to delight.”

Starred Review, School Library Journal, October 1, 2012:
“Fans of the first book won’t be disappointed, and will eagerly anticipate the next one. The Emerald Atlas was very good. This one is even better.”

Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews, September 1, 2012:
“Irreverent humor and swashbuckling adventure collide in a fetching fantasy.”

Customer Reviews

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The Fire Chronicle 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 54 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I can already tell from the first book-The Emerald Atlas-that this book will be magnificant! This book looks so good, i cannot wait for October 9th (when it comes out) because i will read it cover to cover! I will not stop until it is finished, and I AM SO EXCITED THAT IM GOING TO BURTS CANDY AND BE HAPPY ABOUT IT! When this book comes out it might just be the best day of my life! I kniw the John Stephens will not dissapoint me, he didn't with the last book, and i kniw he wont with this book, because this is going to be the next Harry Potter, it will turn into a movie, and then my life will be compleeted, then they will make a movie for the second movie for the 2nd one!!!! Soon i will be happy!!!!! Again
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I cannot wait for the next book to come out. I have waited so long for this one and theyhave to make a movie out of these. Whos with me?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
When i read the first book the beginning was son confusing i considered putting it down but the 2 nd book was so clear and never dull youll luv it <3
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a really good book! The ending was good! Cant wait until the next one!!! :D
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Imagnatine, inventive and egrossing. Just wish there was more to it. The cahrechters need more development. Forgive spelling, please. Overall, I liked it, despite the flaws. Good summer read for tweens.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
When is the third book coming out?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
When is the next book coming out!?!?! Its been like 2 years!
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I love this book its super awsome i agree they should make these books into movies cause you read them and you get sucked in and feel as your there and every things happening to you its awsome!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
When does the next one come out? I have been waiting forever! The fire chronicle really built on the emerald atlas. I might even venture to say that the 2nd was better than the 1st. Can't wait to find out Emma's book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I would recomind this book an amzing book of magic and has some love in it ans sadness i give this 5 stars all the way! Cant wait till next book :)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Omg these books r amazing! The ending is killing me! Its a big cliff hanger! I hope the next book comes out soon!
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I can't wait for the third book in the series. This is a great series and reminds me a lot of Harry Potter. The audio book version is fantastic as Jim Dale is the best! (He also read the Harry Potter audio book version)! If you like Harry Potter, check this series out!
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