Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica: Here there be dragons Audio

The Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica: Here there be dragons Audio

James A. Owen
For ages 12 to and up
Performed/read by: James Landton
Simon and Schuster Audio, 2008   ISBN: 978-0743569101

John does not know what to expect when his tutor summons him to London. The professor’s brief letter was certainly very odd. What did he mean when he said “I believe you are able?” Able for what? Unfortunately when John arrives at the station in London he is met by a policeman. Professor Sigurdsson has been murdered and John will need to go to the house to answer some questions.

At the house John meets two other young men, Jack and Charles. Charles was delivering a manuscript to the professor and Jack was delivering papers for a solicitor. No one really knows what the murderer or murderers were after and when the police have finished questioning them the three young men adjourn to Charles’ club.

They are not there long before a very extraordinary little man called Bert turns up. He seems to know all about the professor and he is there to give John a book which is called the Imaginarium Geographica. It is an atlas of “all the lands that have ever existed in myth and legend, fable and fairy tale.” The lands can be found in a place called the Archipelago of Dreams and John is now the Caretaker of this precious book. Apparently the professor was grooming him for the job from the moment when he took John on as a student, and the old man was killed by enemies who want to steal the book.

Indeed the professor’s killers soon track Jack, John, Charles and Bert down at the club and they are forced to flee to Bert’s ship. The extraordinary vessel looks like a galleon and it has a dragon figurehead. It quickly conveys the young men away from danger but instead of setting them down elsewhere along the Thames, the dragon ship takes them to the Archipelago of Dreams.

The three young men soon learn that all is not well in the Archipelago. The collection of lands and small islands does not have a king and is being ruled by a parliament until a new High King can be found. Unfortunately no one can decide who is should be the successor since there is no heir. A man calling himself the Winter King is taking advantage of the situation and is working on trying to get the throne for himself. It is the Winter King who is trying to steal the Imaginarium Geographica for he believes the book will give him the information he needs to seize the throne once and for all.

Desperately John and his helpers try to keep the Geographica safe. It is not an easy task because the Winter King is powerful and has many evil forces at his disposal. In the end he does indeed get the book but the companions discover that having the book will not give the Winter King what he wants. They alone have the secret weapon that can defeat the Winter King, but it takes them a while before they realize this vital fact and can make use of it for their cause.

Peppered with fairytale, fantasy, and mythological lore of all kinds, this unique story will delight listeners who enjoy fantasy tales. Dragons, talking animals, witches, and all manner of other curious creatures and characters appear, and listeners will no doubt encounter some old friends from their previous literary adventures. Unexpected and new discoveries will constantly surprise, and listeners are sure to be thrilled when they discover who John, Jack, and Charles really are.

This audio title is beautifully narrated by James Langton who breaths life into every character, giving each one a different voice and a unique character. He makes the story exciting, and listeners will quickly become completely enthralled as they listen to the tale unfold.