Every hundred years, four kids from four cities must save the world.Rome, December 29.A mix-up with their reservations forces Harvey from New York, Mistral from Paris, and Sheng from Shanghai to share a room with the hotel owner’s daughter, Elettra. The four kids discover an amazing coincidence—they all have birthdays on February 29, Leap Day. That night, a strange man gives them a briefcase and asks them to take care of it until he returns. Soon afterward, the man is murdered.The kids open the briefcase. In it they find a series of clues that take them all over Rome, through dusty libraries and dark catacombs, in search of the elusive Ring of Fire, an ancient object so powerful that legend says even a Roman emperor couldn’t control it.In the first book of the Century quartet, Italian author P. D. Baccalario begins a mystery that will take four cities and four extraordinary kids to solve.
In this first book in the Century Quartet, Baccalario offers an uneven tale of four children discovering their crucial roles in an event of global proportions. When 12-year-old Elettra's father mixes up the reservations at her family's hotel in Rome, she is forced to share her room with Harvey, Sheng and Mistral (visiting from America, China and France, respectively), who all share the same birthday. After they inadvertently cause a blackout across Rome, the new friends head out into the city, where an encounter with a doomed old man lands them a briefcase full of clues, hints about their shared destiny and the attention of Mahler, a ruthless killer armed with a magical violin. As the children crisscross Rome to unravel the puzzle, they are fed information about the secret history of the world and the momentous events that they have been chosen to be part of. The children feel underdeveloped and have basically been reduced to the role of pawns of fate and of the adults who are manipulating them, but there are some genuinely exciting moments and the premise is intriguing. Ages 10 13.