The Ashtown Burialsby N.D. Wilson; that’s the one. This series (The Dragon’s Tooth,The Drowned Vault,and Empire of Bones)might be categorized as “young adult” fiction, but that’s just stupid. It might be called “fantasy fiction”, but to me that describes a book which often requires imaginative gymnastics to enjoy. This series is a gripping read for older children on up to any age adult. It takes hold of the imagination in chapter 1 and doesn’t ever let go, even when the last page of the final book is read.
Cyrus and Antigone Smith, a brother/sister duo, are the main characters. The two young teens are orphans being cared for by their older brother when their unknown past meets their depressing present. Without giving away any details, they get swept into a world of an ancient secret society tasked with keeping evil at bay and letting the unknowing wider world live in peace.
The story weaves modern heroes with ancient mythology from all around the world. He mixes in magic and mad scientists, mutants and giants, dragons and oracles. The Smiths and those helping them traipse the globe keeping a step ahead of the villains they must defeat. Riddles are solved, planes crashed, flames thrown, and spells cast.
Wilson depicts evil as it ought to be depicted and good as truly as it exists. And in the end up is up and down is down, but not in some sort of cheap, fake happy ending. Sacrifices are made; blood and life is lost. What is noble lasts and what isn’t doesn’t. Like all good stories, it leaves the reader wanting to be better, to do better. And as a bonus it leaves you wanting more, not because it’s incomplete, but because it was that enjoyable.