Goodreads: Atlantis Rising
Promi lives by his wits, stealing what he needs and occasionally testing his skills against the security of the complacent upper class. An attempt to steal a pie from under the nose of the Divine Monk himself, however, lands Promi in jail where he learns a startling prophecy—the end of magic and of his world rapidly approaches. Atlanta, a girl with natural magic, does not know anything about prophecies, but she does fear the evil that creeps through the Great Forest. She thinks Promi can help, but the thief wants nothing more than to return to the only life he knows.
In Atlantis Rising, Barron promises to introduce readers to the wonder of the mythical island before its fall. Despite the presence of magic, however—indeed, the book makes it a point to mention several times the prevalence of enchantment in the land, as well as the unique and varied wildlife—the story proves a little lackluster. The plot, the setting, and even the characters fail to attain the originality or the liveliness that would capture readers.
The main protagonist Promi will seem immediately familiar. A sarcastic orphan who makes his way through life by stealing, he possesses the easygoing charm of an Aladdin or indeed any number of literary thieves. His penchant for sweets is presumably meant to help define him, as are the numerous quotes from his journal that head each chapter. The quotes, however, are less insightful than they are meant to be and actually do not provide much more information about Promi. A caveat of his training in magic proves more helpful in developing his character—each use of magic requires a sacrifice on his part, the magnitude of the sacrifice being equivalent to the amount of magic needed. Readers thus get to learn what really matters to Promi. Unfortunately, the sacrifices never seem to make a lasting impression on him and the ending ultimately makes all of it appear worthless.
Promi , of course, eventually teams up with a girl—in this case, Atlanta, a specialist in natural magic who lives in the Great Forest. She can speak with the trees and with the animals. Initially she appears to be very powerful and very interesting. She attracts people from across the land, all of them desirous of learning from her. However, though communing with nature may prove personally beneficial, the plot gives it a back seat once Promi’s magic comes into play. Promi, after all, can do useful things like transport people, cure illness, and more. Atlanta’s greatest use of magic occurs when she asks the woodland creatures to make her a banquet.
I really wanted to like Atlanta, but I found I could not. She reminded me of the awful Disney princess stereotype (note: I really love the Disney princesses!). Kind, sweet, caring, and prancing around in the forest singing and getting animals to do work for her. She should have had a personality, but instead she seemed like a one-dimensional poster girl for someone’s limited idea of femininity. I felt that Promi liked her not because she was herself but because, by golly, this is obviously feminine perfection personified and we have a boy and a girl together, so hey why not?
The other characters prove just as stereotypical. The sarcastic yet lovable animal (well, supernatural creature) sidekick, the greedy and power-hungry priests, the sadistic woman ruler, and more all come into play. A more original plot might have imparted to their actions at least a little freshness, but a prophecy, an ancient artifact imbued with all magical power, and a subplot that could have been pulled straight from Hercules sometimes made reading this book seem like a chore. At least it does not appear to be the start of a series.