An Acceptable Time (Time Quintet Series #5)

An Acceptable Time (Time Quintet Series #5)

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A flash of lightning, quivering ground, and, instead of her grandparents' farm, Polly sees mist and jagged mountains -- and coming toward her, a group of young men carrying spears.

Why has a time gate opened and dropped Polly into a world that existed 3,000 years ago? Will she be able to get back to the present before the time gate closes -- and leaves her to face a group of people who believe in human sacrifice?

This Commemorative Edition includes a new introduction by the Author.

From the Paperback edition.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780739372012
Publisher: Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group
Publication date: 11/11/2008
Series: Time Quintet Series , #5
Edition description: Unabridged
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 5.90(h) x 1.10(d)
Age Range: 11 - 15 Years

About the Author

Madeleine L'Engle was the author of more than forty-five books for all ages, among them the beloved A Wrinkle in Time, awarded the Newbery Medal; A Ring of Endless Light, a Newbery Honor Book; A Swiftly Tilting Planet, winner of the American Book Award; and the Austin family series of which Troubling a Star is the fifth book. L'Engle was named the 1998 recipient of the Margaret A. Edwards award, honoring her lifetime contribution in writing for teens.

Ms. L'Engle was born in 1918 in New York City. She wrote her first book, The Small Rain, while touring with Eva Le Gallienne in Uncle Harry. She met Hugh Franklin, to whom she was married until his death in 1986, while they were rehearsing The Cherry Orchard, and they were married on tour during a run of The Joyous Season, starring Ethel Barrymore.

Ms. L'Engle retired from the stage after her marriage, and the Franklins moved to northwest Connecticut and opened a general store. After a decade in Connecticut, the family returned to New York.

After splitting her time between New York City and Connecticut and acting as the librarian and writer-in-residence at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, Madeleine L’Engle died on September 7, 2007 at the age of 88.

Date of Birth:

January 12, 1918

Date of Death:

September 6, 2007

Place of Birth:

New York, NY

Place of Death:

Litchfield, CT


Smith College, 1941

Read an Excerpt

An Acceptable Time

By Madeleine L'engle

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Copyright © 1989 Crosswicks, Ltd.
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4299-9437-8


She walked through an orchard, fallen apples red and cidery on the ground, crossed a stone wall, and wandered on into a small wood. The path was carpeted with leaves, red, orange, gold, giving off a rich, earthy smell. Polly scuffed along, pushing the toes of her running shoes through the lavish brightness. It was her first New England autumn and she was exhilarated by the colors drifting from the trees, dappling her hair with reflected amber and bronze. The sun shone with a golden haze through a muted blue sky. Leaves whispered to the ground. The air was crisp, but not cold. She hummed with contentment.

The trees were young, most no more than half a century old, with trunks still slender, completely unlike the great Spanish-moss-hung water and live oaks she had left less than a week before. Apples from a wild seedling had dropped onto the path. She picked one up, russet and a bit misshapen. But the fruit was crisp and juicy and she wandered on, eating, and spitting out the seeds.

Now the path led her toward a forest of much older trees, towering maples, spruce, and pine. Reaching above them all was an ancient oak, with large, serrated leaves of a deep bronze color, many still clinging tenaciously to the branches. It was very different from the Southern oaks she was used to, and she had not recognized it as one until she learned her mother and uncles had always called it the "Grandfather Oak."

"When we first moved here," her grandmother had explained, "most of the oaks were gone, killed by some disease. But this one survived, and now our land is full of young oaklings, all evidently disease-resistant, thanks to the Grandfather Oak."

Now she looked at the oak and was startled to see a young man standing in its shadows. He was looking at her with lucid blue eyes which seemed to hold the light of the day. He wore some kind of white garment, and one hand was on the head of a tan dog with large, pricked-up ears, outlined in black. The young man raised his hand in greeting, then turned and walked quickly into the forest. When she reached the great tree, he had disappeared from sight. She had thought he might speak to her, and she was curious.

The wind had risen and played through the pines, sounding almost like the rolling of the breakers on the beach at Benne Seed Island, off the coast of South Carolina, where her parents still were, and which she had left so short a time ago. She turned up the collar of the red anorak she had taken from the generous supply that hung on pegs outside her grandparents' kitchen door. It was her favorite because it fitted her well and was warm and comfortable, and she liked it because the pockets were full of all kinds of things: a small but very bright flashlight; a pair of scissors; a notepad in a leather binder, with a purple felt pen; an assortment of paper clips, safety pins, rubber bands; a pair of dark glasses; a dog biscuit (for what dog?).

She sat on a great flat glacial rock, known as the star-watching rock, and looked up at white clouds scudding across the sky. She sat up straighter as she heard music, a high, rather shrill piping of a folk melody. What was it? Who was making music out here in the middle of nowhere? She got up and walked, following the sound, past the Grandfather Oak, in the same direction as the young man with the dog.

She went past the oak and there, sitting on a stone wall, was another young man, this one with lustrous black hair, and skin too white, playing a penny whistle.

"Zachary!" She was totally startled. "Zachary Gray! What are you doing here?"

He took the whistle from his mouth and shoved it into a pocket in his leather jacket. Rose from the wall and came toward her, arms outstretched. "Well met by sunlight, Miss Polly O'Keefe. Zachary Gray at your service."

She pulled away from his embrace. "But I thought you were at UCLA!"

"Hey." He put his arm around her waist and hugged her. "Aren't you glad to see me?"

"Of course I'm glad to see you. But how did you get here? Not just New England, but here, at my grandparents' —"

He led her back to the wall. The stones still held warmth from the autumn sun. "I called your folks in South Carolina, and they informed me you were staying with your grandparents, so I drove over to say hello, and they — your grandparents — told me you'd gone for a walk, and if I came out here I'd probably find you." His voice was relaxed; he seemed perfectly at home.

"You drove here from UCLA?"

He laughed. "I'm taking an internship semester at a law firm in Hartford, specializing in insurance claims." His arm about her waist tightened. He bent toward her, touching his lips to hers.

She drew away. "Zach. No."

"I thought we were friends."

"We are. Friends."

"I thought you found me attractive."

"I do. But — not yet. Not now. You know that."

"Okay, Pol. But I can't afford to wait too long." Suddenly his eyes looked bleak. His lips tightened. Then, deliberately, he gave her one of his most charming smiles. "At least you're glad to see me."

"Very glad." Yes. Delighted, in fact, but totally surprised. She was flattered that he'd gone to the trouble to seek her out. She had met him in Athens the previous summer, where she had spent a few days before going to Cyprus to be a gofer at a conference on literature and literacy. It had been an incredibly rich experience, full of joy and pain, and in Athens Zachary had been charming to her, showing her a city he already knew well, and driving her around the surrounding countryside. But when he had said good-bye to her in the airport after the conference had ended, she had never expected to hear from him again.

"I can't believe it!" She smiled at him.

"Can't believe what, Red?"

"Don't call me Red," she replied automatically. "That you're here."

"Look at me. Touch me. It's me, Zach. And what are you doing here?"

"Going for a walk."

"I mean, staying with your grandparents."

"I'm studying with them. For a few months, at any rate. They're terrific."

"I gather they're famous scientists or something."

"Well, Grand's a Nobel Prize laureate. She's into little things — sub-subatomic particles. And Granddad's an astrophysicist and knows more about the space/time continuum than almost anybody except Einstein or Hawking."

"You always were a brain," he said. "You understand all that stuff?"

She laughed. "Only a very little." She was absurdly glad to see him. Her grandparents were, as she had said, terrific, but she hadn't seen anyone her own age and hadn't expected to.

"So why are you doing this instead of going to school at home?" he asked.

"I need lots more science than I could get at Cowpertown High, and getting to and from the mainland from Benne Seed was a real hassle."

"That's not the only reason."

"Isn't it enough?" It would have to be enough for Zachary, at least for now. She looked away from him, across the star-watching rock, to an autumn sky just turning toward dusk. The long rays of the sun touched the clouds with rose and gold, and the vivid colors of the leaves deepened. A dark shadow of purple moved across the low hills.

Zachary followed her gaze. "I love these mountains. So different from California mountains."

Polly nodded. "These are old mountains, ancient, worn down by rain and wind and time itself. Perspective-making."

"Do you need perspective?"

"Don't we all?" A leaf drifted down and settled on Polly's hair.

Zachary reached out long, pale fingers and took it off. "It's the same color as your hair. Beautiful."

Polly sighed. "I'm just beginning to be reconciled to my hair. Given a choice, I wouldn't have chosen orange."

"It's not orange." Zachary let the leaf fall to the ground. "It's the color of autumn."

— Nice, she thought. — How nice he can be. "This is the first time I've seen autumn foliage. I've always lived in warm climates. This is — I don't have any words. I thought nothing could beat the ocean, and nothing does, but this —"

"It has its own glory," Zachary said. "Pop's living in Sausalito now, and the view from his house can overwhelm, all that incredible expanse of Pacific. But this, as you say, gives perspective and peace.

"Your grandparents," he continued, "offered tea and cinnamon toast if I could find you and bring you back."

"Sure." She jumped down from the wall. As they passed the Grandfather Oak, she asked, "Hey, who was that blue-eyed guy I saw here a few minutes ago?"

He looked at her. "I thought he was someone who worked for your grandparents, a caretaker or gardener or something like that."

She shook her head.

"You mean they take care of this whole place themselves?"

"Yes. Well, a neighboring farmer hays the fields, but he's older, and this man was young, and he didn't look like a farmer to me."

Zachary laughed. "What do you think a farmer looks like? I grant you, this guy had a kind of nobility."

"Did you talk to him?"

"No, and that was, as I think about it, a little weird. He looked at me, and I looked at him, and I was going to say something, but he gave me this look, as though he was totally surprised to see me, I mean totally, and then he turned and walked into the woods. He had this big- eared dog with him, and they just took off. Not running. But when I looked, I didn't see them." He shrugged. "As I said, I thought he must be a caretaker or whatever, and a lot of those types are sort of surly. Do you suppose he was a poacher? Do you have pheasants or quail?"

"Both. And our land is very visibly posted. It's not big enough to be called a game preserve — most of the old farms around here were a hundred acres or less. But my grandparents like to keep it safe for the wildlife."

"Forget him," Zachary said. "I came out here looking for you and I've found you."

"I'm glad. Really glad." She smiled at him, her most brilliant smile. "Ready to go?"

"Sure. I think your grandparents are expecting us."

"Okay. We'll just go back across the star-watching rock."

"Star-watching rock?"

She stepped onto the large flat glacial rock. Patches of moss grew in the crevices. Mica sparkled in the long rays of the descending sun. "It's always been called that. It's a wonderful place to lie and watch the stars. It's my mother's favorite rock, from when she was a child."

They crossed the rock and walked along the path that led in the direction of the house. Zachary walked slowly, she noticed, breathing almost as though he had been running. She shortened her pace to match his. Under one of the wild apple trees scattered across the land the ground was slippery with wrinkled brown apples, and there was a pungent, cidery smell. Inadvertently she moved ahead of Zachary and came to a low stone wall that marked the boundary of the big field north of the house. On the wall a large black snake was curled in the last of the sunlight. "Hey!" Polly laughed in pleasure. "It's Louise the Larger!"

Zachary stopped, frozen in his tracks. "What are you talking about? That's a snake! Get away!"

"Oh, she won't hurt us. It's only Louise. She's just a harmless black snake," Polly assured Zachary. "When my uncles, Sandy and Dennys, were kids — you met Sandy in Athens —"

"He didn't approve of me." Zachary stepped back farther from the wall and the snake.

"It wasn't you," Polly said. "It was your father's conglomerates. Anyhow, there was a snake who lived in this wall, and my uncles called her Louise the Larger."

"I don't know much about snakes." Zachary retreated yet another step. "They terrify me. But then isn't this snake incredibly old?"

"Oh, she's probably not the same one. Grand and I saw her sunning herself the other day, and she's exactly like the old Louise the Larger, and Grand said there hasn't been a black snake like Louise the Larger since my uncles left home."

"It's a crazy name." Zachary still did not approach, but stayed leaning against a young oak by the side of the path, as though catching his breath.

— It's a family joke, Polly thought. Zachary knew nothing about her family except that it was a large one, and she knew nothing about him except that his mother was dead and his father was rich beyond her comprehension. Louise later. "Ready?"

His voice was unsteady. "I'm not walking past that snake."

"She won't hurt you," Polly cajoled. "Honestly. She's completely harmless. And my grandmother said she was delighted to see her."

"I'm not moving." There was a tremor in Zachary's voice.

"It's really okay." Polly was coaxing. "And where you have snakes you don't have rats, and rats carry bubonic plague, and —" She stopped as the snake uncoiled, slowly, luxuriously, and slithered down into the stone wall. Zachary watched, hands dug deep into the pockets of his leather jacket, until the last inch of tail vanished. "She's gone," Polly urged. "Come on."

"She won't come out again?"

"She's gone to bed for the night." Polly sounded her most authoritative, although she knew little of the habits of black snakes. The more tropical snakes on Benne Seed Island were largely poisonous and to be avoided. She trusted her grandmother's assurance that Louise was benign, and so she crossed the wall and then held out her hand to Zachary, who took it and followed tentatively.

"It's okay." Polly tugged at his hand. "Let's go."

They started across the field to what Polly already thought of as home, her grandparents' house. It was an old white farmhouse which rambled pleasantly from the various wings that had been added throughout the centuries. Like most houses built over two hundred years ago in that windy part of the world, where winters were bitter and long, it faced south, where there was protection from the prevailing northwest winds. Off the pantry, which led from the kitchen to the garage, was a wing that held Polly's grandmother's lab. Originally, when the house had been part of a working dairy farm, it had been used as a pantry in which butter was churned, eggs candled.

To the east was the new wing, added after Polly's mother and uncles had left home. It held an enclosed swimming pool, not very large, but big enough for swimming laps, which had been strongly recommended for her grandfather's arthritis. Polly, like most children brought up on islands, was a swimmer, and she had established, in only a few days, her own pattern of a swim before dinner in the evening, sensing that her grandparents liked to be alone in the early morning for their pre-breakfast swim. In any case, the pool was large enough for two to swim in comfortably, but not three.

The downstairs rooms of the old house had been opened up, so that there was a comfortable L-shaped living room, and a big, rambly area that was kitchen/sitting room/dining room. Polly and Zachary approached the house from the north, climbing up onto the tiered terrace, which still held the summer furniture. "I've got to help Granddad get that into the cellar for the winter," she said. "It's too cold now for sitting outdoors for meals."

She led Zachary toward the kitchen and the pleasant aromas of cooking and an applewood fire. Four people were sitting around the oval table cluttered with tea cups and a plate of cinnamon toast. Her grandmother saw them and stood up. "Oh, good. You did find each other. Come on in. Tea's ready. Zachary, I'd like you to meet my old friend Dr. Louise Colubra, and her brother, Bishop Nason Colubra."

The bishop stood up to shake hands with Zachary. He wore narrow jeans and a striped rugby shirt and his thinness made him seem even taller than he was. He reminded Polly of a heron. He had strong, long hands and wore his one treasured possession, a large gold ring set with a beautiful topaz, in elegant contrast to his casual country clothes. "Retired," he said, "and come to live with my little sister."

Little indeed, in contrast to her brother. Dr. Louise was a small-boned woman, and if the bishop made Polly think of a heron, Dr. Louise was like a brown thrush in her tweed skirt and cardigan. She, too, shook hands with Zachary. "When Kate Murry calls me her old friend, I wonder what the 'old' refers to."

"Friendship, of course," Polly's grandmother said.

"Dr. Louise!" Polly took her place at the table, indicating to Zachary that he should sit beside her. "We saw your namesake!"

"Not the original Louise the Larger, surely?" The doctor took a plate of fragrant cinnamon toast and put it in front of Zachary.


Excerpted from An Acceptable Time by Madeleine L'engle. Copyright © 1989 Crosswicks, Ltd.. Excerpted by permission of Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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An Acceptable Time 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 76 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Polly O'Keefe, daughter of Meg Murry and Calvin O'Keefe from L'Engle's beloved A Wrinkle In Time, moves in with her maternal grandparents when the schools on remote Benne Seed Island prove inadequate for her abilities and interests. The two elderly but still active scientists supply the challenges Polly needs with their unique brand of home schooling, and their oldest grandchild savors the peace and undivided attention after a childhood spent as the oldest in a brood of seven. The calm of rural New England in autumn doesn't last, though. The Murry house sits on a spot that 3,000 years ago was considered sacred by those who lived in their valley then, and a retired Episcopal bishop who's their nearest neighbor has inadvertently opened a time gate to that era. Zachary Grey, the self-absorbed young man who appears in several earlier L'Engle books (particularly the Austin series), shares Polly and Bishop Colubra's ability to pass through the gate and to see ancient folk who make the reverse trip. When the gate closes with that unlikely trio on its other side, Polly soon finds herself revered as a goddess - and at risk, made far more deadly by Zachary's cowardly actions, of being sacrificed by tribal leaders desperate to bring their drought-stricken people rain. Of all the later L'Engle time novels, this one came closest to spinning the same magic spell for me that the first book did. It has the same wonder and excitement, but with a slightly harder edge that comes from having a slightly older and more experienced heroine. Or, perhaps, from being written for a different generation of young readers? Anyway, this not-so-young reader (I first read A Wrinkle In Time 40 years ago, at age 11) couldn't put An Acceptable Time down without finishing it. Superb, and - also like the first book - guaranteed to make you think!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is definitely one of L'engle's best! Besides having Polly go back in time, L'engle explains HOW she time travels. For all teens (or adults) interested in time & space, I highly reccomend this mix of fantasy and science
MCNYC62 More than 1 year ago
I've been a Madeleine L'Engle fan for years, and this book fulfills that fandom. A great story of hard choices which come at a cost, facing good and evil. Go Madeleine!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book didn't have meg or calvin or any of the other murry children in it. Eh, it was good anyway.
bethanynummela on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
L'Engle weaves a story through space and time again proving how much the future can affect the past to change the future. It's a beautiful book developing characters we know and love from L'Engle's previous novels.
SirRoger on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
An Acceptable Time does have a good message. It teaches truth in that integrated, mostly-subtle way that good books should, and in this is similar to the other books in the "Time" "Series." (If, indeed, a series it really can be called...) The difference is that this book is boring. Yes, it continues the story of the Murry clan, and yes, it involves druids and blood sacrifice and time travel, (in a way quite parallel to [book:A Swiftly Tilting Planet|77276]) and yes, it does eventually get around to a nice satisfying moral. But. Plot holes abound. The dialogue is confusing and repetitive, when it's not inane. If it had been condensed to about half the length, with serious dialogue editing, it might have worked. Read it because you love [author:Madeleine L'Engle|106] and the Murry clan, but not because you expect it to be as good as [book:A Wrinkle In Time|18131]. It's not.
puabi on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Strangely uninteresting. Try "A Wind in the Door" instead.
thelorelei on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
"An Acceptable Time" is the final installment in Madeleine L'Engle's beloved Time Quintet, and it is rather different in tone from the previous books. The plot centers around Polly, Meg and Calvin's daughter, as she visits her Murry grandparents in New England. Somehow time circles nearby have been opened, allowing Polly to cross over into prehistoric times. Whereas the threats of the previous books came from without the Murry circle of friends and family, in this story Polly is put in considerable danger by a friend, and then the challenge becomes whether to do the right thing and help the person who selfishly harmed you, or leave them to suffer the consequences of their own bad decisions. I liked this book, despite the fact that it is very different from the adventures of the previous generation. The tone is just a little more downcast, as it revolves around human sacrifice and betrayal, and Alex and Kate Murry have grown less open-minded in their older age, refusing at first to believe that Polly has truly time-traveled. That was slightly hard to swallow considering all they had seen (Alex Murry having himself tessered in the first book). But the writing was still captivating, and I very much wanted to find out what happened in the course of the novel (even though I've read it before) so I would still recommend the book.
juniperSun on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I was surprised to see that I had missed this sequal to A Wrinkle in Time, but found it to be a fairly flat novel so am not surprised it slipped past my radar. Or maybe I'm just so much older than when I read Wrinkle that I expect more from a novel than I did then.Too much preaching--so much, that L'Engle had her character apologize frequently for preaching. While Polly is a thoughtful, caring character, Zachary is such a self-centered user he irritated me & I couldn't figure out why Polly would give him any attention.
elissajanine on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I had a tough time finishing this book. I didn't connect with the characters, and the message seemed so heavy-handed. But A Wrinkle in Time has always been a favorite of mine growing up, and it was nice to reconnect with some of the characters and settings from that world.
readafew on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is the 5th and final book in the Time Quintet by Madeleine L'Engle. I think I'm too old and have read too many books for this one to be enjoyable. I was never in doubt or surprised at any development.Overall it wasn't a bad book, and for someone who's enjoyed the other Time Quintet books this one is very similar. However, I really found Zachary to be very annoying to the nth degree and I've never liked L'Engle's Time thought experiments such as 'If I die here in the past before I was born will I have ever existed?' WHAT? Anyway decent story with a strong moral ending.
navelos on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I was a big fan of Madeline L'Engle when I was kid but hadn't read this one before. The story is that Polly, while staying with her grandparents in New England, stumbles through a time gate into the distant past. The action really begins when her friend Zachary enters the picture and comes into the past with her. Zachary has recently been diagnosed with a heart problem and been told that he has only a short time left to live and hopes to find a cure in the past.A big portion of the center of the book was rather slow and repetitive. The grandparents keep warning Polly to be careful and avoid going to the past while trying to understand or believe what is going on. The book is a little preachy at times and I felt like there where just a few too many strokes of good luck or coincidence.
kaelirenee on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Love this book when I was a preteen-good for those who like the early Wrinkle in Time books.
littlepiece on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
An Acceptable Time is my favorite of the second-generation Austin/Murray spin-offs. It is written for an older YA audience, allowing it to handle ambiguously romantic plot elements far more gracefully than books like A Ring of Endless Light (which features the same sullen, dark stranger, Zachary Gray). The characters of Polly O'Keefe and the Bishop are true to the original spirit of the books with Meg. Polly will never replace Meg in my heart, but had I the power I would have An Acceptable Time replace Many Waters in the officially-marketed "Time Quartet."
heidialice on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Polly O'Keefe, daughter of Meg and Calvin from the original Wrinkle in Time series, visits her grandparents' farm and finds herself traveling back 3000 years. When she and two of her friends find themselves trapped there, they have to rely on their wits to avoid being sacrificed.Not as compelling as the original series, but a good read for those (like me) who can't get enough of L'Engle. I was pleased this didn't devolve into pointless romance, and enjoyed the redemption story.
justine on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Not as good as the original time series, but still a good read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
You need to read the whole wrinkle in time series before you read this book. Many waters is by far my fav book in this series yet, I have not read this so yet so I may like it more. Madeline L'Engle's work is very good I have been very impressed with her work so far. READ THE SERIES THOUGH ITS TOO GOOD TO MISS!!!!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I would recomend this but not as good as other bookd
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Jenny_Rose More than 1 year ago
The Murry children are all grown and left home. In fact, Meg and Calvin married and this book stars their oldest daughter Polly. Polly is staying with her grandparents when she stumbles through a time gate that takes her back 3000 years. She encounters the People of the Wind—the same Indian Tribe her uncle Charles Wallace encountered in A Swiftly Tilting Planet (I am disappointed that L’Engle did not address this connection. Perhaps because the previous encounter was done by kything). Though this story was much better than Many Waters and more in the style of the other Time books, it still left me feeling let down and wondering if 300+ pages was really worth that ending.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
In the front of the book it says there are other books in the series (example, Th Arm of the Starfish) but theyre not listed in the store or my local library. Do these books even exist??
Anonymous More than 1 year ago