Amulet Book One Story Structure
Spoiler Warning! Below is the plot structure of Amulet Book One: The Stonekeeper using Blake Snyder’s Beat Sheet as the basis for the breakdown (see my review of Blake Snyder’s book Save the Cat, an excellent storytelling resource). For an explanation of each “beat” please refer to Blake Snyder’s Beat Sheet. Thanks!
Premise: Amulet is a superhero tale about Emily Hayes, a young girl who must learn to use the power of a magical amulet to save her family from a world of fantasy and danger.
Opening Image: The story starts with a pretty heavy prologue as our protagonist, Emily, and her mom try to pull her dad from the wreckage of a car accident before the car topples over the edge of a cliff. They don’t succeed and Emily’s dad dies. By Emily’s facial expression, we know this story will deal with the emotional weight of this moment. A hero will be born from these ashes.
Set-up: Two years later, Emily, her little brother, Navin and their mom move into an old family-owned house, hoping to start anew. While exploring the house, Emily finds the study where weird-looking bird skulls are mounted on the wall, old robotic machinery is lying around and a book rests on a podium in the middle of the room (handwritten notes about “stones of power” are written on a page).
Theme Stated: Emily’s mom tells her the study belonged to their relative, Silas Charnon. Emily tries to use the artifacts of Silas’ genius around the room as proof that attending a new school and learning things that are “not useful in the real world”, like algebra, are not worth her time. She can be like Silas and learn more on her own. Her mom says that Silas was an eccentric and not someone to emulate. “It’s better to lead a normal life.
Catalyst: When their mom leaves the room, Emily and Navin find an imprint on the podium for a hand. Emily touches it causing it to flash with light and flip over, revealing a stone necklace: The Amulet. Emily puts it on and tells Navin not to tell their mom. They don’t notice a ghost-like spirit with cat-shaped pupils and a figure kept in shadow are also in the room, watching them.
Debate: But why? What do they want? That night, the Amulet speaks to Emily, warning her that she and her family are in danger. At that moment, they hear a noise coming from the basement. Mom goes to check and a giant creature (later called an Arachnopod) attacks her. The kids run down to the basement and find their mother gone. They open a door nearby and find a staircase into darkness (a rabbit hole to another world).
Choosing Act Two: Together, they cross through the doorway and as they run down the stairs the staircase reforms into a brick wall. There is no way back to the “normal” world.
Fun n’ Games (Promise of the Premise): The Arachnopod is there, waiting for them. It grabs Navin and stores him in its belly with their mom before attacking Emily. Fortunately, Emily’s anger accidentally triggers the power of the Amulet, stunning the Arachnopod. As it flees, Navin is able to escape – their mom is unable – and the Amulet directs the two kids toward Silas’ house, advising Emily on how to use the Amulet’s power to protect them as they go, calling her “Stonekeeper”. Nearing Silas’ house (located on the top of a small island of rock), the shadowed figure from the study confronts them. He looks like an elf (tall, pointed ears, silver hair), and similar to the ghost-like spirit, he has cat-shaped pupils. He, too, has an amulet and is about to attack the kids when a large man in a hat and trench coat saves them, whisking them away across the body of water to the house.
B Story: The man in the trench coat turns out to be a robot controlled by a smaller robot named Miskit (a talking pink bunny rabbit). Miskit introduces the kids to Silas, who has been waiting on his deathbed to tell Emily about the Amulet. By wielding power of the Amulet and listening to its guidance, Emily will be able to save their mom, rule the land of Alledia – the “alternate” version of planet Earth that they are in – and even turn back time (Emily thinks of her dad). With that, Silas dies, leaving Emily to make a choice: trust the Amulet’s guidance or try to save their mom on their own, without a magical power (normal).
Midpoint: She chooses to trust in the Amulet and becomes the new leader of the house in Silas’ stead. With the help of the robots, they locate the Arachnopod that has her mom and determine how to head it off: fly a plane through a dangerous passageway called “The Gauntlet”.
Bad Guys Close In: Emily, Navin and Miskit board the plane and together they fly through the Gauntlet. Emily begins to use the Amulet’s power with more confidence, battling the creatures that try to attack them. They pass through the Gauntlet and spot the Arachnopod with their mom, traveling with a number of other Arachnopods. Using the Amulet, Emily tries to save her but must stop when the plane is attacked by the other Arachnopods.
All is Lost (& Whiff of Death): The plane crashes and is ripped to pieces by the impact. It begins to rain as Emily chases after the Arachnopods, alone. Emily struggles to keep up but eventually finds that the Arachnopod with her mom has been cut off by the elf. Using his amulet, he kills the Arachnopod, retrieves Emily’s mom (unconscious) and holds Emily captive.
Dark Night of the Soul: Emily offers the Amulet to him if he’ll let them both go. He laughs. He’s not after the Amulet; he’s after HER. It has been prophesized that she will kill his father, the Elf King, and the elf wants to help her. Together, they can free Alledia and she can “finish what Silas started”. All she has to do is let the ghost-like spirit enter her mind and take over — no more problems, no more worries.
Choosing Act Three: Emily refuses. As the spirit attacks Emily, she uses the power of the Amulet to destroy it. The power flows through Emily, telling her to kill the elf. But as the elf cowers, completely vulnerable, Emily spares him and warns him to never come near her family again. He flees and Emily looks after her mom.
Finale: Back in the house, we learn that the Arachnopod poisoned Emily’s mom as she tried to escape. They need an antidote and the Amulet won’t help them (it is angry with Emily for not killing the elf). Emily begins to doubt her decision to trust the Amulet. Feeling responsible for how un-normal their lives have become, Emily cries, saying, “I’m sorry” to her unconscious mother.
Final Image: This installment of the Amulet series ends with Silas’ house transforming into a giant robot able to walk across land and tall enough to travel through water. They need to get to a town 300 miles away for the antidote, but will they get there in time?
Emily’s life is now as completely opposite of normal as it can get. She is special in ways she never imagined and must learn what to do with her power to save her mom… in Amulet Book Two!
TO BE CONTINUED…