Reviews for Akhenaten Adventure : Children of the Lamp
Booklist Reviews 2004 September #2
Gr. 5-9. British thriller-writer Kerr puts an ingenious spin on the enchanted-lamp theme in his first novel for children, in which 12-year-old twins John and Philippa discover that they come from a preeminent family of djinn. Although their powers are not yet fully fledged (they're constantly forgetting whether spiraling into a bottle should be done clockwise or counterclockwise), the twins must help their powerful uncle Nimrod preserve the balance between opposing djinn tribes. Kerr's background as a writer for adults may explain his tendency to give grown-ups more personality than his preteen protagonists, and one sometimes winces at characterizations that seem like holdovers from the colonial era (one Egyptian servant named Karim is dubbed "Creemy" because he smiles "like a cat that's had the cream"). But it's hard not to admire the well-crafted scaffolding that supports the fantasy (for instance, all djinn suffer from claustrophobia--you'd have it too if your ancestors were always getting trapped inside stoppered vessels). Casting kids in roles of real magic and power is a time-tested premise, and this variation gains extra appeal from its sources in a refreshingly different tradition than those generally tapped by witch-and-wizardry retreads. The enticing metallic cover won't hurt, either. Expect the twins to transubstantiate in two more volumes to complete the Children of the Lamp trilogy. For other genie-related titles, see adjacent Read-alikes column. ((Reviewed September 15, 2004)) Copyright 2004 Booklist Reviews.
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2005 Spring
When the Gaunt twins have their wisdom teeth out, the vision they have under anesthesia reveals their heritage as [cf2]djinn[cf1] on the side of good. They're whisked off to Cairo where they navigate the legalities of granting wishes and prevent the evil djinn from upsetting the balance. The varied episodes, likable characters, and research into djinn legends make this an agreeable page-turner. Copyright 2005 Horn Book Guide Reviews.
Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2005 #1
When the Gaunt twins, John and Philippa, both have their wisdom teeth out at the precocious age of twelve, the vision they have under anesthesia (of their uncle Nimrod, floating in the Brighton Royal Pavilion above a Coleridge-inspired sunless sea) opens the doors to their true heritage as members of the Marid, a tribe of djinn on the side of good. The "adventure" of the title is no idle promise: the twins go to London to begin training with Uncle Nimrod, but soon they're all whisked off to Cairo to try to prevent the evil djinn, the Ifrit, from upsetting the balance. The plan: to find the lost tomb of Akhenaten before Iblis, head of the Ifrit, does, and to bind the seventy djinn imprisoned there to the side of good. Along the way the twins try transforming into camels, navigate the tangled legalities of granting wishes, become trapped in a glass brandy decanter, and meet mummies in the British Museum. The writing falters occasionally (a desultorily described trip to the Arctic seems pasted in and never comes to life), and a few flecks of educational bran slip into the fantasy confection, but on the whole, the author's research on djinn legends, the artfully varied episodes, and the likable characters combine to make this an agreeable page-turner. Copyright 2005 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.
Kirkus Reviews 2004 October #1
Entertaining archaeological adventures unfortunately find humor in pettiness and snark. Twelve-year-old twins John and Philippa share a vision in the dentist's office in which mysterious Uncle Nimrod encourages the children to visit. At his direction, they blackmail their parents into sending them to England, where they learn they are half-djinn. Soon they are embroiled in a race against the wicked Iblis, in a competition to turn the balance of mystical power in the world to good or evil. With the help of a djinn with an Irish brogue, a human butler with an almost intriguing past, a stereotyped Egyptian chauffeur, and a bit of cleverness, the children save the world for the forces of good while coming into their birthright. Puns abound, but too many are knowing winks to adult readers, and many others rely on snide little cruelties at the expense of secondary characters or entire nations. Funny and clever, but weakened by cheap shots. (Fantasy. 10-12) Copyright Kirkus 2004 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2004 October #1
In thriller writer Philip Kerr's YA debut, he puts an entertaining spin on the genie-in-a-lantern mythos, thanks to the exotic setting and a breezy and humorous delivery. Twelve-year-old John and Philippa Gaunt are "the least identical twins imaginable," at least in appearance, though they can read each other's minds. While anesthetized at the dentist, they meet their Uncle Nimrod in a hallucination; he encourages them to come to London to stay with him over the summer. Their parents agree to the plan, surprising the siblings. Before they arrive in England, strange things begin happening-a neighbor who mentions to the twins that she wishes she would win the lottery suddenly does, and a scared couple on their London-bound plane tells Philippa that they wish they were back home then promptly vanish. In his palatial home, Nimrod tells the twins that they are djinn, or "children of the lamp... the guardians of all the luck in the universe," and whisks them off to Egypt to continue their training. While in Cairo, the family encounters an explorer who claims to have discovered the key to the lost tomb of Akhenaten, which legend says contains enough trapped djinn to upset the balance of luck in the world. A breakneck paced, Indiana Jones-style adventure ensues, taking Nimrod and the twins from the heat of the Egyptian desert to the bowels of the British Museum. Kerr keeps the emphasis on fun, making this the first in a series worth watching. Ages 9-12. (Oct.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal Reviews 2004 December
Gr 5-8-In this uneven fantasy, 12-year-old twins live a privileged but uneventful life in New York City until both John and Philippa need to have their wisdom teeth extracted. Afterward, the children begin to experience strange growth spurts, have cravings for smoke and heat, and gain the ability to grant wishes. After inviting them to visit him in London, their Uncle Nimrod informs them that they are descended from the Marid tribe of djinn. As he begins their training, they travel to Egypt, where they are pursued by Iblis, the leader of an enemy tribe who thinks Nimrod knows the location of the lost tomb of Akhenaten. This pharaoh bound 70 djinn to his service and whoever finds his tomb will have the ability to command them and shift the balance of power from good to evil. As they travel around the world, the siblings and their uncle have numerous adventures, culminating in an encounter with Akhenaten's ghost. The writing has a cinematic quality as Kerr provides detailed glimpses at the changing scenery; at times, there is too much description, particularly of room furnishings. In-depth characterizations are sacrificed for the often humorous, fast-moving plot. For a more complex and satisfying fantasy about djinn, try Jonathan Stroud's "Bartimaeus Trilogy" (Miramax).-Sharon Rawlins, Piscataway Public Library, NJ Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
VOYA Reviews 2005 April
In the debut of Children of the Lamp, John and Philippa Grant seem to be the least alike of twins, but after the twelve-year-olds are discovered to have full sets of wisdom teeth, mysterious things begin to happen. A shared dream tells them to spend the summer with their barely known Uncle Nimrod, coincidences begin piling up everywhere they go, and suddenly their parents begin to seem wary of them. Finally they discover the source of all the mystery: They are the descendants of a family of djinn. Guided by their kindly but eccentric uncle, they struggle to learn and develop their powers, including the ability to grant wishes. But when traveling through Egypt, the spiritual and historical home of the djinn, they become embroiled in a plot of a malevolent ifrit to shift the delicate balance of good and evil in the universe Popular British thriller writer Kerr tackles a new challenge with his first novel for youth. He creates a fast-paced story, with a multifaceted and well-defined alternate world, and magic stemming from djinn heritage is an interesting twist; however, he is not entirely successful. None of the characters, with the exception of Uncle Nimrod, have any depth or complexity, and the story lacks the suspense and real conflict necessary to make this work appeal to more sophisticated readers. Young readers might overlook the snarky tone, stereotypes, and witticisms that seem directed toward an adult audience and appreciate this enjoyable romp while awaiting the next Harry Potter or the vastly superior Bartimaeus Trilogy.-Catherine Gilmore-Clough 2Q 3P M J Copyright 2005 Voya Reviews.