The Crown of Zeus: The Library of Athena, Book One
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by Christine Norris
Category: Young Adult/Fantasy
Description: Which is worse: Having to start life over, or being eaten by a Minotaur? The Library of Athena, Book One Thirteen-year-old Megan Montgomery's world is falling apart. Her father's promotion means leaving her whole life in New York behind. She finds herself transplanted to a huge, lonely manor house in the English countryside, with no one for company but the distant staff. Her new school only adds to her misery--neither the girls nor the teachers seem to like her. Then Megan meets three girls who actually talk to her instead of about her, and at first she thinks things are getting better. But the girls seem more interested in the strange rumors that the house is haunted. Desperate to make friends, Megan invites them to sleep over for the weekend. A discovery of a cryptic poem, a key and a diary written by the builder of the manor--an eccentric archaeologist--turns the sleepover into a treasure hunt. Clues lead the girls to believe the Parthenon holds a great secret--and suddenly they find themselves sucked into one man's version of Ancient Greece. The only way home is to find an object thought to be mere legend. If they survive that long.
eBook Publisher: Samhain Publishing, Ltd., 2008
eBookwise Release Date: February 2011
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [304 KB]
Reading time: 196-274 min.
After miles of dreary scenery--empty hills, fields and livestock, mostly--they drove into a small village. It was quaint, with narrow, cobbled streets and a mix of stucco and stone buildings. A bakery, a bookshop, a pub, a coffee shop, and a butcher's shop lined the main street. At the end sat the town square, filled by an ancient stone church with colorful stained glass windows and a small cemetery. Several people rode by on bicycles, packages in baskets on the handlebars or strapped onto back.
Megan was almost impressed. Okay, it's cute. But I'd bet nothing interesting has happened here since Queen Elizabeth the First.
On the other side of the square was a train station. People scurried along the platform, getting on and off a waiting train.
"That's how we'll get to London," her father said. "Just jump on the train and we'll be there. Quite an adventure, huh?"
Megan leaned her face on her hand. "Yeah, sure it is, Dad," she muttered.
"We're nearly there folks," the driver said in a cheery tone. "Not far now."
Good. Much further and we'd drive off the face of the earth.
Beyond the village a low wall of piled loose stones separated the road and an empty field. On the opposite side, a row of cottages sat close to the road, each with its own little gate that guarded stone walkways and tiny squares of front yard.
The low wall ended, and a higher one of block began. The car slowed. There was a break in the wall, and the car turned onto a gravel drive. A tall wrought-iron gate stood open, and the car pulled in.
Her father gave the driver a puzzled look. "Are you sure this is the right house?"
"Yes sir. This is the place."
"This just seems so...grand. The big drive, the wall, the gate. And we haven't even seen the house yet. The girl at the firm said it was a country house. But if you say so, I guess this is it."
Megan looked at the top of the gate and snorted a laugh.
"What's so funny?" her father asked.
"Is that, uh, the name of our house or something?"
He looked at the letters of scrolled iron above the gate as they passed beneath them. The Parthenon, it said. He scratched the back of his balding head. "I guess it is. It's not uncommon to name estates. But you're right, Megums, it is a strange name."
Who, Megan wondered, would name a house in England after an ancient Greek temple? A mystery, one she wasn't sure she cared enough about to solve, but it was curious.
The driver guided the car up the tree-lined drive, and Megan got her first glimpse of The Parthenon.
The house was enormous. Three stories of rough gray stone rose from the ground like a fortress. It was longer than it was tall, at least a hundred and fifty feet. More chimneys than Megan could count grew from the many peaks of the blue-gray slate rooftop. Hundreds of windows winked at her as they reflected the sun.
The car glided into the driveway turnaround. In the middle of the loop was a marble fountain. A sculpture of a Greek woman, her stone dress draped over her, stood in a circular basin. Water poured into the basin from the pitcher she held under one arm.
The driver stopped the car at the entrance. Wide stone steps led up to the heavy oak front door.
Megan's father looked at her, eyes twinkling. "Pretty nice digs, huh? Almost like living in the middle of Central Park."
It was like the park, except there was no bustling city on the other side of the gates. Just a big bunch of nothing.
The front door opened and a tall, thin, bald man in black tails marched down the steps and opened her father's door, then stood back and bowed deeply.
The man straightened. "Welcome, sir. My name is Bailey. I am the butler and custodian of The Parthenon."
Her father got out of the car and nodded. "Thank you, uh, Bailey. We are glad to be here."
Uh, wrong. We're not glad about anything. Although the big house was impressive, she still would rather have been home in New York. There would be no walking to the store or a friend's house here. She was stranded.
Her father motioned to her as she climbed out of the car. "This is my daughter, Megan."
Bailey tilted his head toward her, and she felt a cold shiver run up her back. The butler's face was long and thin, his hair a fringe of white around a bald top. Creepy. He looked down his nose at her.
"Miss." He turned back to her father. "I will see to the driver and your bags. If you would, please wait for me in the entrance hall."
Megan and her father walked into a cavernous entrance hall. A floor of marble, white swirled with black, gleamed from beneath vibrant Persian rugs. A rectangular mirror in a gilt frame reflected Megan's look of surprise from the wall on the right. Next to the mirror and through an archway was a cozy room with a huge fireplace. Shelves of books stood on either side, like sentries. In front of the fireplace sat two low, overstuffed armchairs of burgundy leather.
Beneath a multi-paned window that looked as if it belonged in a cathedral, a wide staircase with oak banisters swept up the center of the room to a landing. More steps led upward, off to the left and right. On the landing sat another sculpture of a woman, this one much bigger than the one in the fountain. Her left arm reached toward them, an owl perched on her hand. Her other arm was at her side, a long spear in her grip.
Megan couldn't take her eyes off of it. The woman was so beautiful, and at the same time strong. "Cool."
"Cool indeed," her father said.