The Morus Chronicles Book 1
Author: J.R. Roper
Publisher: Crushing Hearts and Black Butterfly
(July 1, 2014)
Genre: YA Horror, Dark Fantasy
2015 Readers' Favorite Gold Medal Winner
2015 Children's Literary Classics Award Winner
Winner Best Children's Novel 2014: Preditors &
Editors Readers Poll
When thirteen-year-old Ethan Morus is forced to stay on his grandparents' old farm, he expects to find weathered barns, rusty tools, and a creaky house in need of fresh paint. What he doesn't expect is to hear a legend placing his family at the center of an ancient treasure hunt. Or find burial chambers protected by poltergeists, or a secret lair guarded by an ancient beast. And least of all, Ethan doesn't suspect that powerful sorcerers are watching his every move.
They've found Ethan and believe he is from a line of treasure hunters who possess a rare instinct to locate powerful artifacts. Whether he has the instinct or not, Ethan is faced with a choice-search the Morus property and find what they want or lose yet another family member.
This is a beautifully crafted novel. Roper has given us a brother/sister duo who make a great team when it comes to sticking together and solving the mystery that is their family. After a tornado levels the only home they've known, Ethan and his sister, Destry, are in limbo. With their mother working to rebuild their lives at home, and a father who died not long ago, they have many obstacles to overcome as they face the summer with grandparents they don't know well. Their mother is of little help when she leaves them there and tells them to ignore their grandfather's rants. Most believe him to be crazy, but Ethan begins to believe his tales as little by little, clues are revealed about their family history. Unfortunately, there are others interested in the family history and who will stop at nothing to find the treasure they believe exists.
My favorite part about this book is the relationship between Ethan and Destry. They appear to have the typical brother/sister connection at the beginning of the book. Each of them knows how to aggravate the other and get a rise out of their mother while placing blame on the other, which reminded me a lot of home. As the story unfolds, however, there is a deep level of trust revealed between them that was touching. Despite the danger they are in throughout the book, Ethan keeps her safety in mind and at the same time trusts her to help him figure out the clues and keep their family safe. Both are strong, independent characters who bring different skills to the table.
Relationships were the central focus for me as a reader. I try to read YA novels with an eye for teaching the book in class and this book lends itself well to digging in and finding the deeper meaning behind the words. Being the first book in a series, the ending was wrapped up nicely, but it is clear there are more adventures to come.