I read the first 4 books of this series ages ago, but then life happened and I get distracted easily, so the last few in the series have been waiting for me. Since this year is all about reading the books that I own but keep bypassing, I decided it was time for a full reread of The Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica by James A Owen so I could remind myself of all the characters and plots. It took me about 10 days, but I’ve managed to read all of them, so here’s the review!
Synopsis: An unusual murder brings together three strangers, John, Jack, and Charles, on a rainy night in London during the First World War. An eccentric little man called Bert tells them that they are now the caretakers of The Imaginarium Geographica – an atlas of all the lands that have ever existed in myth and legend, fable and fairy tale. These lands, Bert claims, can be traveled to in his ship The Indigo Dragon, one of only seven vessels that is able to cross the Frontier between worlds into the Archipelago of Dreams.
Pursued by strange and terrifying creatures, the companions flee London aboard the Dragonship. Traveling to the very realm of the imagination itself, they must learn to overcome their fears and trust in one another if they are to defeat the dark forces that threaten the destiny of two worlds. And in the process, they will share a great adventure filled with clues that lead readers to the surprise revelation of the legendary storytellers these men will one day become.
This series is a book lover’s dream. First, they are books about books; next, you have all the amazing literary characters; and finally, all the insanely beautiful art done by the author himself. It’s definitely helpful to have a grounding in the classics when reading this series because a lot of the fun is trying to figure out who each of the characters could be. With both authors and literary characters populating the Archipelago of Dreams, the likelihood of a gathering comprised of Captain Nemo, Peter Pan, Arthur Conan Doyle, and Marie Shelley is entirely within the realm of possibility.
I’m actually really glad that I decided to go back to the beginning of this series because it can get super confusing. With characters going back and forth through time and a huge cast of characters, keeping track of all the major players on both sides occasionally made me want to break out the sharpies to make a chart. The world building in this series is incredible, but can be insanely confusing if you step away from the series for any amount of time. I highly suggest that anyone who wishes to read these books set aside a week to dedicate to the series so they can keep everything fresh in their minds. The first two books are the most straightforward, but from there time and space begins to get very complicated.
Of the seven books, my favourite is probably the The Search for the Red Dragon. This story incorporates so many great works of fiction, including James Barrie’s Peter Pan, Dante’s Inferno, and Greek mythology, alongside historically significant moments such as the Children’s Crusade and the Second World War. I really enjoyed the buildup to discovering who many of the “bad-guys” were, and loved the interpretations and story melding that the author did to create entirely new fictions.
LC rating: (incredible world building, amazing series)