There’s nothing better than binge-reading a binge-worthy book series — and with this week’s publication of The Sea of the Dead, Barry Wolverton’s Chronicles of the Black Tulip is now available in its binge-able entirety.
Now, I can recommend plenty of books to gift to 8-13 year old readers (and adults who enjoy great kid lit) — but this series is one I’ve been pushing on my friends and their loved ones since the first book was published. My desire to recommend these books is even stronger now that all three books are available.
Here are the Top 5 Reasons to Gift The Chronicles of the Black Tulip:
5. Alternate History
One of the things I loved first about this series — and continued to love over all three books — was it’s take on an alternate history. The books are basically set in the real world, but not. It’s similar to the world we know, but just a little bit different. Wolverton takes certain liberties with history (dates, times, places, people) and twists the familiar into something whimsical and adventurous for the purposes of his story, and it’s so incredibly delightful to immerse yourself in as a reader.
4. Fantastical but Relatable
I love reading to escape — and this series provides plenty of incredible escapes — but I also like being able to relate to a story or its characters in some ways. And this is where Wolverton really shines, because in the midst of this fantastical series (doused in adventure; sprinkled with just a touch of magic) are feelings and situations and emotions that are real, raw, and honest. The books aren’t just about these magical quests — they’re about growing up, self discovery, grief, love, friendship, and figuring out who you are, who you want to be, and how you fit into the world.
3. Adventure, in the Great Wide Somewhere
These books are filled to the brim with adventure of all sorts, and all over the globe. From England to China to the North Pole! It will take you all over, all from the comfort of your own home.
2. Kick-Ass Characters
Bren is a sweet and relatable character, and the perfect protagonist to lead this series. But he’s accompanied by so many wonderful fellow characters. My favorite is probably the lady archaelogist/explorer Lady Jean Barrett (whom you’ll meet in book 2), but there are so many great ones, it’s impossible to name them all.
1. The Whole Package
Really what’s so wonderful about this series is that it has it all: heart and fun and meaning and adventure. I’d say it has a little something for everyone, but really what these books possess is a lot for everyone. If you haven’t discovered this series yet, now is the perfect time to pick-up all three books and binge-read away!
Does the Vanishing Island really exist? And if so, what treasure—or terrible secret—was hidden by its disappearance?
It’s 1599, the Age of Discovery in Europe. But for Bren Owen, growing up in the small town of Map on the coast of Britannia has meant anything but adventure. Enticed by the tales sailors have brought through Map’s port, and inspired by the arcane maps his father creates as a cartographer for the cruel and charismatic map mogul named Rand McNally, Bren is convinced that fame and fortune await him elsewhere. That is, until his repeated attempts to run away land him a punishment worse than death—cleaning up the town vomitorium.
It is there that Bren meets a dying sailor, who gives him a strange gift that hides a hidden message. Cracking the code could lead Bren to a fabled lost treasure that could change his life forever, and that of his widowed father. But to get there he will have to tie his fate to a mysterious Dutch admiral obsessed with a Chinese legend about an island that long ago disappeared from any map.
Before long, Bren is in greater danger than he ever imagined, and will need the help of an unusual friend named Mouse to survive. Barry Wolverton’s thrilling adventure spans oceans and cultures, brings together the folklore of East and West, and proves that fortune is always a double-edged sword.
An engrossing fantasy, a high-seas adventure, an alternate history epic—this is the richly imagined and gorgeously realized second book in acclaimed author Barry Wolverton’s Chronicles of the Black Tulip, perfect for fans of The Glass Sentence and the Books of Beginning series.
A magical white jade stone and a map inscribed in bone that may be the key to an even greater mystery—this is the treasure Bren and Mouse have found buried on the Vanishing Island.
Mouse is determined to follow the map to a place called the Dragon’s Gate, convinced it will explain who she really is and the powers she possesses. Bren has had enough adventure for one lifetime and would like nothing more than to return to his father in Map. But nothing goes according to plan when the survivors of the Albatross are rescued by Lady Jean Barrett, a charismatic archaeologist with a sense of destiny.
Barrett is on a quest for the Eight Immortals, ancient artifacts she believes are buried in the tomb of China’s first emperor—the location of which has been hidden for nearly two thousand years. The only way for Bren, Mouse, and Barrett to all get what they want is to work together on a dangerous journey into the heart of China, a kingdom long closed to outsiders, where the greatest secrets about Mouse and Bren are waiting to be unveiled.
An engrossing fantasy, a high-seas adventure, an alternate history epic—this is the richly imagined and gorgeously realized third book in acclaimed author Barry Wolverton’s Chronicles of the Black Tulip, perfect for fans of The Glass Sentence and the Books of Beginning series.
After the harrowing and life-changing events at the Dragon’s Gate, Bren wants nothing more than to make his way back to England. Finding the answers to the great mysteries he’d been chasing only found him questioning why he’d ever pursued them in the first place, and now he’s lost his best friend, forever. There’s nothing left for him but to return home and hope his father hasn’t given up on him.
But just because Bren is done with adventure does not mean adventure is done with him. On his way to escape from China, Bren is gifted a rare artifact, with a connection to a place no one has set foot upon. Soon he’s fallen in with a mysterious Indian noblewoman bent on discovering an ancient power and leading her country against colonial rule.
The only way home, it seems, is through helping her—and as Bren wonders what she’s willing to sacrifice in order to return home a hero, he must ask himself the same questions.
Today’s code word: SEAFARING