I had been skipping over this one for a while now. We have the first three books of the Amulet series at my library. The Stonekeeper (Graphix 2013) being the first book sets the story in motion. It’s actually a decent series and the only thing I can think of keeping me from reading had been the thought that I already read it.
You know that feeling? I run into it from time to time where I am certain I read something or worse, I can’t remember if I did a write up on something. I think my mind is swimming in odd thoughts about stories whether I have them flowing out of me or into me. There’s an image for you. Anyway…
So I grabbed the books recently. In simple terms, I like what I am reading. If this was all I needed or wanted to say we could walk away from right now with the parting thought to pick up the books and see them for yourself. But it is never that simple.
See, these are some middle grade stories, not quite old enough for young adult. At the same time, there are some cutesy animals and such but the subject matter is a bit older than juvenile reading. And from all of that you might think I was avoiding talking about anything important. But really that information is important for what we are about to delve into.
It’s the tropes. Namely the trope of what happens to the parents in these types of stories. In the real world the middle years are some strange years for children. They are not quite in a place where they are comfortable making their own decisions and such. So one of the biggest tropes of stories like this is the removal of the parents. Either they are not in the stories at all or at the worst aspect of it, the parents are killed off forcing the children into a position to step up and make adult decisions.
As no surprise, at the beginning the kid’s father is killed off. The story elements of it work well and it is believable for the story. But still it is a trope that pushes the story along. As story mechanics go we can see and know this, even as it is pulling us into the changes that stem out from his passing.
You probably know where this is going after that too. The rest of the story snowballs from there. The daughter, who was present at the accident when her dad died, finds the amulet. Of course, she knows nothing about it or what it does. That takes even more crazy to happen.
Essentially, everything that is happening around Emily (the main character) is beyond her control. We can picture that in the preteen and early teen years. Everyone around them is telling them what to do and how to be. It is only in the first moment that they take control of their life and make the decision to act that things start to change. Of course, in the story, just like life, change is incremental.
Through all the trials and tribulations of Emily taking control of her life, we also encounter another going through similar troubles. Mind you, we don’t know the full story on that yet (more of that is unveiled in later parts of the series). All we know at this time is the son of the Elf King desires her power to usurp his father.
I just realized I missed another piece of the tropes running wild in this story. Emily’s mother was captured. This is the moment where her need to make adult decisions comes from. She has no one else who can do what needs to be done to save her mother. There are helpers and guides along the way but ultimately, the quest is hers to undertake.
In the end, sure the stories are not incredibly complex. They are essentially hero stories. We have good fighting against evil, but this isn’t always the evil we expect. Funny how life feels the same way more often than not. I love the art, it’s a style I have seen in a few other similar books. There are so many aspects of these stories that connects us to our own world while still taking us to places beyond our everyday.
If you enjoy these stories, consider leaving some coffee money in the jar or you could buy a book or two. Either way helps keep the stories flowing.