Reviews for Shadow Thieves

Booklist Reviews 2006 March #1
Gr. 5-8. Forget heaven and hell, the Greek underworld isn't a myth! When it's time to leave the corporeal world, everyone makes the journey to Hades' realm, where they spend eternity as a Shade, first waiting in line to cross the river Styx, and thereafter roaming aimlessly. All is status quo until power-hungry Philonecron resolves to reanimate the dead with blood from the living, create an army from the shadows of living children, and usurp Hades' throne. Enter Charlotte Mielswetzski, unwitting accomplice; her cousin Zee, a boy with an unusual bloodline and an unusual shadow; and a kitten named Mew. The cousins come to understand they are at the center of a nefarious underworldly plot, and must protect themselves, foil Philonecron, and reunite the children with their shadows. This story is charmingly silly, but has enough serious moments to carry the plot forward. It unwinds with such unabashed cheerfulness and gusto that readers will find much to enjoy, especially if they can connect with its mythological base. ((Reviewed March 1, 2006)) Copyright 2006 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2006 Fall
Charlotte and her cousin investigate a mysterious plague that has hit Charlotte's school and, in the underworld, discover the cause: a half-demon Immortal with a Napoleon complex. This fast-paced, Greek-themed frolic is set apart by the irreverently casual voice of its omniscient narrator and will be attractive to readers at the younger end of the adventure-lovers spectrum. Copyright 2006 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2006 #2
After her cousin Zee arrives from England, thirteen-year-old Charlotte Mielswetzski ("Say it with me: Meals-wet-ski. Got it?...There. You thought your name was bad") investigates a mysterious plague that has left most of her school in a coma-like state. With the help of their English teacher, Mr. Metos, Charlotte and Zee descend into the underworld to stop the plague, caused, they discover, by a half-demon Immortal with a Napoleon complex. Philonecron has been stealing students' shadows and using them to animate an undead army to overthrow Hades, who has been distracted from his empire by Queen Persephone. While delivering a fast-paced action adventure (Philonecron sends ghastly eight-foot-tall skeletonlike creatures after Charlotte and Zee; the two are also attacked by Harpies and the occasional vampire), this Greek-themed frolic is set apart by the voice of its omniscient narrator, who addresses the reader in an irreverently casual tone and establishes a ridiculous exaggeration that pleasantly leavens the danger. The result is particularly attractive to readers at the younger end of the adventure-loving spectrum, for whom the chill of exploring death -- and the thrill of feeling in on the author's jokes -- will be just right. Copyright 2006 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2006 March #1
Comic horror provides adventure and a chance to save the world to 13-year-olds Charlotte and Zee. Charlotte has always been careful to remain unremarkable. She has few friends but few enemies, and does just well enough in school not to get in trouble. All that changes when her cousin Zee arrives from England. Zee is smart, polite, charismatic-and has been followed from England by a mysterious plague that afflicts kids in his vicinity with a terrible weakness. Charlotte and Zee are drawn into a conflict among the Greek gods for control of Hades; only by going down into the underworld can they heal the sick children. Though they rescue the children, unresolved questions lead the way into a second volume. Snarky wit and authorial asides, though occasionally intrusive, keep the adventure lively. A fun and funny tale of youthful heroism. (Fantasy. 9-13) Copyright Kirkus 2006 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Annex Reviews
Ursu (Spilling Clarence, for adults) tantalizingly tells her tale, the first entry in the Cronus Chronicles, out of order, building suspense and integrating Greek mythology as she goes. In the first section (entitled "We begin in the middle") a sardonic narrator introduces 13-year-old Charlotte. The red-headed misfit begins to experience popularity when her cousin Zee arrives from London, making her cool by association. As part one concludes, students at their school start to get sick at an alarming rate; here the story jumps back six months to tell the tale of Zee, a star athlete whose beloved grandmother prophetically whispers "me-tos" to him on her deathbed. Mr. Metos, it turns out, teaches Charlotte and Zee mythology, and aids the cousins in their mission to go to Hades and stop the strange sickness plaguing the students. Underworld-born Philonecron and his Footmen are stealing children's shadows to mount an army and unseat the Lord of the Dead, and Charlotte and Zee (with his unique birthright) may be the only ones who can stop him. Readers will likely find this entertaining in the most pleasingly frenetic of ways, and the narrator's breezy sense of humor (e.g., "The Ferryman for the Dead is widely considered, in both legend and life, to be rather, well, greedy. But really, if you look at all the facts, you can't blame him. He has a family to feed") keeps the book from cracking under the weight of its Byzantine structure. Ages 8-12. (Mar.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

School Library Journal Reviews 2006 April

Gr 7-9 -With a wit and cynicism that will enchant most readers, Ursu weaves an extraordinary tale filled with Greek gods, sick and shadowless children, and a plot to overthrow the Lord of the Dead. Charlotte Mielswetzki is in such a bad mood that she doesn't notice a freakish man in a tuxedo following her home from school. But something extraordinary is about to happen. Charlotte's cousin Zee lives in England, where all of his friends are becoming mysteriously and seriously ill. Sent to Charlotte's family in America, he discovers that the same thing is happening to his new friends. It turns out that Philonecron, born in the Underworld, is determined to overthrow Hades and builds an army from children's stolen shadows, getting at them through Zee. The quick-paced novel takes readers on a danger-filled journey from the Midwest to Hades, where Charlotte and Zee make their final stand against the evil threatening to destroy the world of the dead. The Shadow Thieves is a great addition to this newly popular Greek-myth genre. Readers of Rick Riordan's "Percy Jackson and the Olympians" series (Hyperion) and Jane Yolen's "Young Heroes" series (HarperCollins) will delight in this new helping of myth-based fiction.-Lisa Marie Williams, Fairfax County Public Library System, Reston, VA

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