The Riddles of Epsilon

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9780060728199: The Riddles of Epsilon

Jess has moved to a remote island called Lume off the coast of England. Her parents are restoring an old house, and Jess discovers an abandoned cottage on their property. Inside the cottage Jess encounters an eerie presence -- something like a ghost but suffused with a comforting energy. She also finds three locked boxes. Inside each she finds antique papers that send her mind spinning.

As Jess unravels the mysteries of Lume, she finds the writings of Sebastian, a boy who lived one hundred years ago and whose life contains unsettling reflections of her own. To her horror, the dangers he unearthed in 1894 now begin to threaten Jess and her family. Something dark has awoken, and Jess doesn't have much time to do something about it.

Jess has a talent for solving puzzles, riddles, and codes. She is confronted with a series of riddles that she must unlock in order to save her mother from a dark and ancient threat. Jess is guided by the creepy presence in the cottage. The mysterious guide is called Epsilon, but is he a guide from the bright side or the dark?

Christine Morton-Shaw has created a spectacular thriller about one girl's spine-chilling experience with the supernatural world.

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Review:

A modern teen battles ancient evil aided by an invisible guide and an old diary in British author Christine Morton-Shaw’s The Riddles of Epsilon. While exploring the property around her mother’s ancestral home, fourteen-year-old Jessica finds a falling down cottage. Within resides Epsilon, a being that could be wraith, angel or demon. Through ghostly IM exchanges on her computer, Epsilon leads Jessica to an 1894 diary written by a boy named Sebastian Wren. Jessica is disturbed to discover that Sebastian’s actions seem to mirror her own, right down to sharing the same dream. Even more upsetting is the fact that Jessica’s mother seems to be slipping away mentally, just like Sebastian’s mother did many years ago. Epsilon tells Jessica that the only way to free her mother’s mind is to find a cursed relic that Sebastian failed to uncover. But can Jessica trust Epsilon? And if not, is she strong enough to break the age-old family curse on her own?

Morton-Shaw’s use of light and dark symbolism is eerily effective, and teen readers will be reminded of The Watcher in the Woods by Florence Engle Randall, or more recently, the spooky Midnighters series by Scott Westerfeld. While the writing doesn’t always hit the mark (Jessica’s characterization is slap-dash and stereotypical; primordial Epsilon often slips into modern slang), the mood of the book is nevertheless deeply creepy, and readers under twelve may find themselves sleeping with the lights on. (Ages 12 and up) --Jennifer Hubert

About the Author:

Christine Morton-Shaw has felt "visited" all her life. She often has to sidestep people she then realizes others can't see at all. Sometimes these impressions or visions can take a sudden step closer: "It is as if the skin between this world and another world begins to get thinner. Things in that other place become clearer and louder. I'm quite happy with all this strangeness and charm, and can't imagine life without it."

She feels at home in ruined buildings or medieval houses and streets. Ancient scripts and old manuscripts and diaries seem alive to her. Some of the things in The Hunt for the Seventh have happened to her, particularly the gray glimpses and the whispers.

Christine Morton-Shaw lives with her family in Sheffield, England. She is the author of The Riddles of Epsilon and many picture books for children.

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