With The Chalice of Immortality, Erica Kirov completes her Magickeepers Trilogy. Book one, The Eternal Hourglass, introduces us to Nick Rostov, a thirteen year old skateboarder living in Las Vegas with his second-rate magician father. Thinking he has a whole summer of skateboarding and playing video games ahead of him, he instead learns that, through his mother who died when he was a baby, he is related to the master magician Damian and the rest of his performing family who reside at the Winter Palace, the grandest hotel in Las Vegas designed to look just like the home of the Russian Tsars that the family is descended from. The family lives on the top floor which is always blanketed in a magical snow that melts long before it reaches the ground. Because the Shadowkeepers, the dark branch of the family tree headed up by Rasputin, are after him, Nick is taken into the fold, despite the fact that his mother broke away from them. Nick meets his cousin, Isabella, who, like all the women in the family has a magical way with animals, as well as many other interesting family members including the ancient but still alive Anastasia Romanov. Magical artifacts and historical figures play a wonderful part in these books and Kirov does a superb job weaving fact and fantasy throughout the stories with flashbacks that reveal that people like Shakespeare and Poe just might have had their creativity bolstered by magic. In book two, Pyramid of Souls, we find Newton, his fourth Law, PT Barnum and Alexander the Great's stories interwoven with those of Nick and his family as they try to track down a magical pyramid before it falls into the wrong hands.
The Chalice of Immortality begins in 1921with Harry Houdini arriving at the door of his good friend, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, for a seance lead by none other than Madame B, owner of the Magical Curiosity Shoppe in present day Las Vegas. From there we follow a restless Nick and a his father and grandfather as they take a dangerous trip to Madame B's for some answers about his past. While Nick gets some answers, he and his family are also attacked by the Shadowkeepers and Nick's father is thrown into a near death state. In order to save him the family cancels their shows at the Winter Palace and travels to England in search of the Chalice of Immortality, a magical object created by three ancient Egyptian magicians. When wine is drunk out of the chalice, death is the result. When water is drunk life is returned. In the hands if Shakespeare, this chalice allows the actors in Romeo and Juliet to move the audience to tears and the edge of their seat during the death scene. Nick and his family track the chalice from Shakespeare to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to Harry Houdini to Liberace. Putting the pieces together, the group follows the chalice through the life of Howard Hughes and finally Amelia Earhart, all the time pursued by the Shadowkeepers and a final climactic meeting between Nick and Rasputin.
Kirov keeps her story filled with interesting historical figures and a fast paced plot making this a great book for younger readers who are interesting in Harry Potter-type fantasy but not ready for the darker aspects that often come with books of this genre.
Readers who enjoyed this trilogy might also like RL La Fever's Nathaniel Fludd, Beastologist series, which is great for third grade level readers and her Theodosia Throckmorton series for slightly older readers. Both are chock full of mythical beasts, great geographical locations and historical artifacts and art.