Bartholomew Borax III, the eleven-year-old heir to the world’s largest cleaning empire, lives to make art. But his neat freak mother forbids it. So he can only do so in secret. He doesn’t know why he is compelled to create.
Just that he must.
When this shy, sheltered boy meets the skateboarding painter, Alexander Devinci, in 6th grade, both he and his cocky classmate begin to share flashing glimpses of a magical world. Meanwhile Alex’s strained relationship with his mother takes an ominous turn when she has a heart attack in their Santa Barbara home, leading Bartholomew to reach out to the boy. A tentative friendship develops as both struggle to cope with their families and ever increasing visions of strange painted creatures.
While the two are gazing at a painting they are yanked into another realm where the confused pair gapes at a painted sky with origami hawks flying overhead.
“Go back,” the hunchbacked monster that rises from the play dough ground hisses.
Bartholomew would love to do just that. He is terrified. But the Artanians who appear and frighten away the slime-covered creature explain that it isn’t possible. Now that they are in Artania, the dimension where all art is imbued with life, the boys must fulfill the words etched on the Soothsayer Stone.
Their battle will be long with seven evils to undo.
Scattered around will be seven clues.
And many will perish before they are through.
But our world will be saved if their art is true.
Everything these Chosen Ones have known about the world is turned on its head as they learn about the mystical connection between Artania and Earth, how humans’ creativity can either keep this world safe or empower its nemesis, the dream-invading Shadow Swine. Now that these monsters have captured twelve pharaohs and taken them to their underground lair, only Alex and Bartholomew can rescue them.
When he sees a dark, muddy arm pull a struggling Artanian child underground, Bartholomew finally agree to help, not knowing if it will be enough. With Egyptian gods, goddesses, and warriors at his side, he braves a series of oozing slime battles, scimitar swinging duels, and skateboarding escapes. Trusting and naïve, the boy blunders again and again. Amidst dead and wounded comrades, his guilt grows. As his confidence begins to erode, he must rely on Alex to help their new friends and save Artania from being destroyed forever.
It will take all of his talents and more to battle these hunch-backed creatures. Can he look deep within himself and find that true place of creation to finally defeat the evil Shadow Swine and bring art back to the world?