In the middle of an impending snow storm, Jeremiah attempts to take his family frustrations out on a ski slope. Across the country, Jamie prepares to face her father as he returns from a trip with his secretary-turned-fiancee. But before either of the teenagers have a chance to face their respective families, they are whisked away in a mysterious vortex and land in another dimension. 

In Marianne E. Burgess Shadow of the Spider: A Quest to Save a Queen (FriesenPress), this alternate dimension called  Eleusia possesses magic, and here, mythical creatures exist. 

JEREMIAH, JAMIE AND PORTIA MAKES TRIPLETS

Jeremiah spent his younger years reading books full of magic, and yet, he finds it hard to believe this is real. In fact, he is more willing to believe he died during a skiing accident and has found himself in a twisted afterlife. Jamie, on the other hand, feels far too excited with the recent events to question it. Her curiosity remains  at the forefront as she encounters her first mystical creature, a satyr, but as more dangerous creatures start to appear, the reality of their new surroundings begins to settle in. 

On top of the discovery of different dimensions and magical beings, the teenagers learn another surprising piece of information: not only are they related to one another, but they are part of a set of triplets. When they meet their third sibling — Portia, who has lived in Eleusia her entire life — they find that she lives up to her reputation as both mischievous and temperamental.

It is the wizard Azmodeus that explains to the triplets why they have suddenly been brought together. Eleusia has fallen under the goddess’ curse, and in 20 days, the dimension will cease to exist as they know it. In order to stop the curse, they must solve six riddles before time runs out . 

While the trio finds assistance in a group of magical teenagers from Eleusia, their quest still appears impossible. In order to solve the riddles in time, the siblings have to put aside their differences and learn to work together. And they must do so on a tight timeline, as Spider, the shadowy creature behind the curse, continues to spread terror across the land. 

BURGESS’ BEAUTIFUL WORLD OF FOLKLORE AND MYTHS

As the quest builds, so does the relationship between Jeremiah, Jamie and Portia. While the triplets begin the journey as three drastically different teenagers placed together, their similarities slowly begin to shine through. Between their growing number of inside jokes and desire to keep each other safe, they create the familial bond they lacked in their prior realities. Despite facing mythical challenges such as goblins and dragons, they also overcome emotional challenges faced by anyone who has a close bond with their siblings. 

Burgess places all of her characters in a beautifully developed world full of folklore and fairy tales. From wizards and elves to a sphinx and Greek deities, Shadow of the Spider includes references to everyone’s favorite myths. It is this diversity that makes Burgess’ novel an attractive read for anyone who enjoys fantasy of any kind. The age range of the characters makes it fitting for young adults, while the complexity of the storyline can also appeal to adult readers.

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Marianne E. Burgess, Ph.D., has been an avid reader all her life, but books of mystical quests and magic at both adult and young adult levels inspired her to write a fantasy of her own. She spent fifty years in education as an elementary teacher and principal and as a university instructor in a Faculty of Education. Although she always used books, stories and storytelling to build students’ creativity and their skills in reading and writing, Shadow of the Spider is her first book and the result of many years of creating and combining stories. Marianne has two adult daughters and lives in Calgary, Alberta, with her husband and cavalier spaniel.