Ulysses Moore - The Door to Time
By: Pierdomenico Baccalario
Summary:When Jason and Julia's parents decide to move from London to a quieter life in Kilmore Cove, the eleven-year-old twins react in very different ways. Julia misses shopping in London, while Jason is excited to explore the mysteries of their new cliff-side home. They soon become friends with Rick Banner, who is a year older than them. So when their parents head back to London for a few days, leaving them in the care of Nestor the groundskeeper, Rick comes for a sleepover. Together, they unravel the mysteries of Argo Manor and find the Door to Time. This is the first book in an eight-book series. So far, only the first four have been translated from Italian to English.
Critique and Analysis:
I haven't read too many books about twins, but from what I understand, most twins experience some sort of mysterious - possibly spiritual - connection. Baccalario ignores this more usual treatment. Instead, Jason and Julia are pretty much complete opposites - Jason is a bit of a dreamer, while Julia is a more down-to-earth type person. The characterization of the twins as complete opposites is a technique Baccalario uses to help the twins
decipher clues, solve puzzles and move the story along. The plot technique that I really disliked was the frequent use of "Deus ex Machina" - a plot device used to keep a story going when the author has come to a major
sticking point, or is in need of something almost magical to happen to a character. Baccalario uses this technique frequently, such as when Jason falls off a cliff and saves himself by grabbing a protruding branch, or when Jason, Julia and Rick track down the Kilmore Cove postmistress and convince her to open the post office when it's normally closed on the weekend. Perhaps this book is meant for slightly younger readers; I found it a bit frustrating that I had to regularly suspend my sense of disbelief! One of the things I really liked about this book was all of the hidden references to Greek and Roman mythology. For example, Jason is a character in the Greek myth "Jason and the Golden Fleece" while Julia is the daughter of Roman Emperor Julius Caesar. Jason of the Greek myth is an Argonaut, and their new home is named Argo Manor. One of the minor characters is named Ms. Calypso, the name of a character in the Greek tale of Ulysses (part of the book's title). When Ms. Calypso selects a book for each of the children to read, her choices include "Wuthering Heights", in which there are 3 main characters: a brother, sister, and adopted child (Jason and Julia, and then Rick represented by the adopted child), all living in an English Manor. She also selects "Ramses" (a foreshadowing of the book's ending), and Jules Verne's "The Mysterious Island" (in which "Deus ex Machina" is a recurring plot device and may foreshadow another adventure in this series). Strangely, even though there was a lot of "Deus ex Machina", I enjoyed the sneaky references to Greek mythology and the various puzzles and clues enough that I feel compelled to read the next book in the series.