Title: The Ancient One by T.A. Barron
Re-released by Puffin Books on March 8, 2016
320 Pages (Paperback)
Blurb: A powerful story exploring the interconnectedness of all things from New York Times betselling author of the Merlin saga.
When thirteen-year-old Kate travels to Oregon for a quiet week at Aunt Melanie’s cottage, her plans are dashed by the discovery of a grove of giant redwood trees in nearby Lost Crater. While helping try to protect the redwood forest from loggers, Kate goes back five centuries through a time tunnel and finds herself facing the evil creature Gashra, who is bent on destroying the same forest. In this extraordinary quest from The Adventures of Kate series, a girl discovers that all living things are connected in ways she never expected, and that true friendship can reach across cultures, and even across centuries.
“Once in a great while a book comes along that is so powerful and so wise that you want to shout about it.” —Madeleine L’Engle, bestselling author of A Wrinkle in Time, on The Ancient One
My Take: I enjoyed reading Barron’s first two books in his Atlantis series, so I was more than willing to take a look at this book when the opportunity arose. The Ancient One has been re-released to celebrate its 25th anniversary, featuring a female protagonist during a time when few books were writing strong female main characters. Overall this was a fun and enjoyable read in spite of its few flaws.
The main character, Kate, is the sort of main character you can admire and cheer for. She is a bright spot in the novel, along with many of the other characters she encounters throughout the story. Barron made a fantastic cast of characters and an imaginative setting with the Lost Crater. It is hard to do a Portal Fantasy well, but I think this one succeeds at making the reader believe and immersing them into a time 500 years prior to the opening scenes. Like the Atlantis novels, it is clear that T.A. Barron has a love and respect for nature and the environment. This is something that I wholeheartedly appreciate.
The plot is, at times, simplistic and predictable. But this does not detract from the writing and weaving of a fun and interesting tale. It is aimed more at younger readers, and they will absolutely adore and delight in this book. Young girls in particular should find this suitable to their taste and may grow to admire Kate and want to be strong and unique like her.
The biggest problem I had was the first third of the book (it is actually broken into three sections) was far too long with not much happening. I had a feeling the book would get better once Kate was transported back in time, but it took a long time to build up to that point. More than once I considered putting the book down in favor of another but chose to push through toward the promise of a better set of scenes. The book certainly delivered once it got there, but the first third might prove to be a challenge to get through for readers.
Overall this book is certainly worth reading and is one I hope to share with my daughters, should I be blessed with some, when they are old enough to read the book.
I received a free copy of the book from Goodman Media in exchange for an honest review.