Reviews

Smithsonian Adventure Captivates Young Readers: “The Firma Twins and the Purple Staff of Death”

Book Review in the Loudoun Times-Mirror, March 3, 2016

Reviewed by: Diane Lunsford

Twelve-year-old identical twins, Isis and Electra Firma, discover they have fantastical powers far beyond anything they could have imagined.

In the first installment of “The Firma Twins Adventures” series, D. H. Timpko uncovers the history of the Firma family and places twin sisters Isis and Electra Firma on center stage to play out the adventure.

Isis and Electra Firma aren’t your average 12-year-old girls. Rather, they are twin sisters who seem to have an acute propensity to find adventure that deposits them in the doorway of danger. It is the twins’ 12th birthday and to celebrate, their parents take them to the coveted Smithsonian in Washington D.C. with two of their friends, Kelly and Phoenix. The Firma family has been steeped in Greek history for decades; hence the inspiration for the twins’ birth names. How appropriate the twins would find themselves wandering through the mummy exhibit. All is not what it seems. Isis is drawn to the 2000-year-old mummy exhibit. Imagine her surprise when it comes to life and delivers its message that she is the ‘Chosen One.’

Still trying to shake the experience, the ‘tweens meet their parents back at the minivan. As they are about to leave, their van is rear-ended and Isis receives another message—this time from the squirrel with the purple sash. She tries to speak, but no words come out. Dr. Dearth, a diabolical human-sized rat has his hands firmly placed around Isis’ neck and the life is slowly slipping from her being. The ambulance arrives and Isis is taken to the hospital. Once the doctor assures her parents she will recover, the group continues home—Isis, however, will remain in the hospital overnight for observation.

What Isis cannot possibly know, is once she returns home, it will be her mission to enlist the help of her twin sister and friends to uncover her grandfather’s diaries. Only then will they begin to understand the connection between it, the Purple Staff of Death and the evil Dr. Dearth’s role in it all.

Timpko has selected a delightful premise for this mystical series of fantasy and adventure. The dialogue is credible and the allure engaging. Her target audience (young adult) is the perfect genre to entice young readers to engage in the wonder of the joy of reading. The adventure is certainly laced with delicious fantasy and naturally appeals to the aforementioned age group. The story line is clean and not too gruesome (or scary) to incite nightmares.

Rather, it is every young adults’ fantasy to step into the pages of imagination and travel willingly throughout. Timpko has mastered the art of encouraging young readers to grasp the concept of just how fun reading can be. I look forward to the next installment of the Firma Twins adventures.

Loudoun County author Diane Lunsford reviews books of local authors or with a regional angle for the Times-Mirror.

Five-Star Review of The Firma Twins and the Purple Staff of Death from Readers’ Favorite

The Firma Twins and the Purple Staff of Death by D. H. Timpko is a fantastical tale of identical twins Isis and Electra, born into a family with a history of identical twins, passed down from generation to generation, including their younger brothers. The story begins on the girls’ 12th birthday and Isis gets to pick what they do. She chooses the family outing to visit an exhibit in Washington D.C.’s Smithsonian Institute–as Isis put it, the Museum of Ancient Egyptian Stuff. She wants to see the mummy that has just been autopsied. While looking at the body in a glass case, Isis notices a bug crawling from the ear to the mouth, and entering the skull through a nostril. As if in a dream, the eyes glow red, the mummy sits up, tells Isis that the vampires have risen, and the Squrlon are in danger. Isis must find the Purple Staff of Death and lead the battle.

D. H. Timpko does a superb job of introducing many characters that get recruited for the school play, which just happens to be a modern day Pied Piper of Hamlin, but on steroids. Electra plays the Flutist and the rats are as big as humans. The author intertwines the play with the solving of the mysteries of their family’s secret history. I loved the way she let Isis become another Nancy Drew. The Firma Twins and the Purple Staff of Death is a fast paced tale of wonder with many different twists and surprises that will leave you hungry for more.

–Stephan Fisher for Readers’ Favorite

Kirkus

In this adventure-filled middle grade novel, two identical twins learn they have fantastical powers far beyond anything they could have imagined.

Strange things happen when Isis and Electra Firma go to a museum in Washington, D.C., to celebrate their 12th birthday. Isis goes to look at the mummy exhibit but is taken aback when the 2,000-year-old mummy comes to life, telling her she must find a magical purple staff before leading a battle. Unfortunately for Isis, she has no idea what the purple staff is or what battle she will be leading; things don’t settle down after that. When the girls and their friends Kelly and Phoenix meet their parents outside the museum, their car is rear-ended, and Isis loses consciousness.

Before she wakes up, she somehow ends up in the body of Dr. Dearth’s driver. Dr. Dearth, a nasty human-sized rat, evidently wishes her family ill: He tells his driver to flee the scene of the accident. Later, when Isis and Electra come upon their grandfather’s diaries in their attic, they begin to realize just how connected their family is with Dr. Dearth, the battle and the purple staff.

The likable Firma sisters share an enjoyable, entertaining dynamic as identical twins. Isis is the more thoughtful of the two, while outgoing Electra has no problem taking charge of any situation. The abundance of twists and turns helps propel the
story . . . an entertaining novel with potential for
more . . .

Five-Star Review for The Firma Twins and the Flute of Enchantment (to be published soon)

“Brilliant and snappy!”

 The Firma Twins and the Flute of Enchantment: A Firma Twins Adventure, Book 2, by D.H. Timpko is a unique novel that takes you on a journey and ensures that you will not put the book down until you have read it till the end. The story follows Electra Firma; she and her twin sister, Isis, are not completely human. They are part alien and they have to keep it a secret or else their future would be too grim to even talk about. But her real identity is now affecting her life.

Thanks to her unique heritage, she has Olympic worthy ice skating skills, but her parents have banned her from even entertaining thoughts of such a career in the future. However, there are bigger things at play than she has any idea about. The future of humanity is under threat by aliens and it is up to her to pose as one of them so that she can find the elusive Flute of Enchantment. To get to that, she has to master her gifts and get inside the inner circle of these aliens. Her life is in danger, but she is not backing out. Not now, not ever! Is she strong enough to face off with an enemy that is far more powerful than she is?

This is a fast paced and well-developed story. I really liked Electra; like her name, she had a spark that was undeniable. She was strong willed and hyper aware of her surroundings. She may be young, but her development was very strong. I liked the fact that she took charge, enlisted the help of a friend, and worked really hard to help others. This is really good! Brilliant and snappy!

Rabia Tanveer for Readers’ Favorite

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