'Escape from Atlantis' Book Club: Day 1

By: Shanleigh Klassen

Photo by Xiomy's Book Tales

“‘Trapped’ is a harsh word . . . But, actually, yes. You’re trapped here. We all are.”

Hello and welcome to day one of our book club read-along for OwlCrate Jr’s December 2021 featured book, Escape from Atlantis by Kate O’Hearn, the first in a thrilling new fantasy series!

Just a reminder that this will be a spoiler filled discussion for chapters 1-12 of Escape from Atlantis. Discussion questions are listed below, and anyone who participates in the comments will be entered to win a free OwlCrate Jr box, one per post!

And now, let’s dive into it!

The story so far . . .

Chapters 1-5

Riley is spending her spring break studying whales on the family sailboat, the Event Horizon, along with her father Andrew, Aunt Mary, and annoying cousin Alfie. However Riley would rather be home with her mom, brother, and friends. We open up with Riley being sent to fetch Alfie for lunch, only she finds him in her cabin, reading her diary. The nerve! Riley is furious and in her frustration, punches him right in the stomach. As she stews on the upper deck and gazes into the ocean below, Riley catches a glimpse of something. Something with fish scales, a human torso, and shaggy dark hair . . . 

The next day, Riley awakens to her dad and Aunt Mary in a panic. A massive storm has suddenly descended on the sailboat and they’re all in huge danger! Riley wakes Alfie up, grabbing them both life jackets and supplies. Just then, something massive slams into the side of the boat, capsizing the Event Horizon. The boat starts taking on water, so they have no choice but to abandon ship. Before they can inflate the life raft, a massive sea serpent rises out of the water and destroys the boat, washing everyone overboard in the process.

Riley surfaces alone. Crying out for her father, aunt, and Alfie, Riley fights against the crashing waves with little success. Suddenly, Riley feels something sharp sting her leg and hears a soft voice saying she is safe. Riley thinks she briefly sees the same mermaid from earlier but, blacks out.

Riley wakes up next on a warm, sandy beach with Alfie just feet away. They both recall hearing a calming voice before blacking out, and discover they have matching bruises on their legs, at the center of which is a small red pinprick. Riley and Alfie start walking down the beach in the hopes of finding their parents, but they’re instead found by a massive dog named Miss Pigglesworth and a boy named Bastian. Bastian is unsurprised by their tale of a sea serpent — the Leviathan, he calls it — and instead leads them into the jungle towards the Community, saying “everyone is expecting you.” Bastian welcomes them to Atlantis.

Chapters 6-9

The Community is a marvel, resplendent with houses that look like boats and buildings made out of multicolored stone. In the distance, Riley and Alfie notice the tip of a spire that looks to be made of white crystals. When they ask about it, Bastian tells them it is the Crucible, located on the other side of the island and is completely forbidden.

Members of the Community immediately rush to meet Riley and Alfie, thrilled at their arrival. The leader of the Community, a man named Beresford, greets them and agrees to send Shane and a small group out on a search party for Riley and Alfie’s parents. In the meantime, Beresford tasks Bastian to show them around the island and to warn them of its many dangers. Riley and Alfie are insistent on trying to find their parents so they may return home, but Bastian is simply confused. After all, “no one ever leaves.” 

Bastian’s statement infuriates Alfie, causing him to immediately suspect the Community was involved with their shipwreck. Arriving at the beach, the group comes across a group of Red Cloaks — considered the most dangerous beings on the island — carrying someone on their shoulders, while four unicorns follow behind. The Red Cloaks are releasing someone into the ocean. One of the Red Cloaks, a particularly terrible being named Mada, is distraught to be losing this other Red Cloak, and when he sees Rily, Alfie, and Bastian watching, he charges at them. Miss Pigglesworth intervenes and is injured. The unicorns, being the guardians of the island, put a stop to Mada’s rampage (who seems to possess a tail beneath his cloak) and Bastian pulls them away from the scene.

Returning to the Community, Bastian urges Riley and Alfie again to heed the rules of Atlantis otherwise they could be seriously hurt. The Community is then called to eat, and Riley and Alfie are led to an old cruise ship that’s half-buried in the sand. The Community uses the ship for housing. Nearby, a massive, formal banquet has been laid out. There, Riley and Alfie see Shane and demand to know if he searched for their parents. He claims he did, but considering the Community’s boundary is so small, he wasn’t able to find them. Riley and Alfie don’t accept that as an excuse and start to make a scene just as Beresford comes over. He says that they did in fact find their parents, but were unable to save them. He regretfully informs Riley and Alfie that their parents are dead.

Chapters 10-12

Riley and Alfie are distressed and shocked by this news. Bastian and Miss Pigglesworth take Riley and Alfie to their parents’ graves. Bastian shares that he also lost his family a long time ago, but that he doesn’t remember them anymore. Upon seeing their parents’ freshly buried graves, Riley and Alfie are inconsolable. A blue-cloaked figure approaches and attempts to soothe them, but Riley’s not having it. In her grief, she reaches forward and pulls the hood back from the figure, revealing the figure as a creature resembling a koala who introduces himself as Pea. 

Pea is very kind, and Riley apologizes for pulling off his hood. Pea accepts her apology because he actually hates wearing the hood. When asked why he wears it then, he says “the others don’t want to be reminded . . . that there are others out there who look different from them.” The cloaks are meant to hide those who wear them, and the Red Cloaks in particular are a warning to stay back. Pea warns them that they may have made a grave enemy with Mada earlier.

After Alfie storms off, wanting to be alone in his grief, Riley, Bastian, Miss Pigglesworth, and Pea make their way through the forest towards the beach once more. Bastian and Miss Pigglesworth become worried as they’re approaching the Forbidden Zone — the place where Red Cloaks go when even they become too wild. Riley spies something orange by the water and Pea volunteers to retrieve it as he’s less likely to be seen by the Leviathan. Pea returns with two orange life vests, one of which belonged to her father. 

Making their way back to the Community, Bastian, Riley, and Miss Pigglesworth stop by the doctor to treat Miss Pigglesworth’s wounds, and Riley is horrified by how this doctor treats wounds compared to the modern medical practices she’s used to. With Miss Pigglesworth all patched up, they head over to the cruise ship-turned-home where Riley is led to her new room aboard the Queen of Bermuda. Alone in her room, Riley discovers a stack of postcards showing the cruise ship and a year — 1951. How long has this ship been on the island?

A little while later, Alfie comes to her room. Riley promises Alfie that they will figure out a way to leave this island together, but in order to do so, they have to stop fighting. Alfie agrees, and together, they begin to plan . . .

Discussion Questions:

  1. When our story starts, Riley, Alfie, and their parents are spending spring break on a whale studying expedition. If you had your own sailboat, where would you want to go visit? What would you do there?

  2. Riley is shocked to discover they have been sailing in the Bermuda Triangle for days without incident, only for the Leviathan to strike that very night. Why do you think it took so long for an incident to occur if they had already been in the Bermuda Triangle for so long already?

  3. Riley, Alfie, and their parents are sailing on the family sailboat dubbed the Event Horizon and on Atlantis, they’re given rooms in the beached cruise ship, the Queen of Bermuda. If you had the chance to name your own sailboat, what would you name it?

  4. Before this book, had you heard about the mythical city of Atlantis? If so, how does this depiction of Atlantis differ from other stories? 

Join us again on Wednesday as we discuss chapters 13 - 20 of Escape from Atlantis!

Pick up your own SECRET CITIES box now in the OwlCrate JR shop!

Never miss another box! Subscribe to OwlCrate Jr today and use code JRBLOG15 to save 15%!