Oliver Caine’s In Trouble Again
When twelve-year-old Oliver Caine sets out on an adventure, there’s no stopping him, not even a warning from the ghoulish Harry Moler, caretaker of Oliver’s school and a grisly version of Hogwart’s Hagrid. Oliver convinces his best friend, the chubby, cautious Peter Higgins, to spend the night at Stone Ridge, and the ghosts begin to stir in Norwood Bay in—where else?—Tasmania, an island off the coast of Australia, where whispering voices can again be heard in the walls of the abandoned house. Joined by Oliver’s half-sister, the boys open the book of Eternal Quest, and find themselves in a desert where time seems to come to a standstill. They struggle across scorching sands to reach a city, only to be chased by a race of lizard people called the Kamul. Excitement builds in this well-paced story, as the trio is led to safety deep underground by boy guide, Nabo, to a hidden city of diamonds where more strange creatures await them. Here, the Elders read from the book of Eternal Quest and tell them what they must do if they are ever to return home. The tasks set for them are arduous, but with Peter’s new-found courage and Oliver’s growing mastery, they find their way. The book’s spell is not entirely broken, even when at last they succeed in carrying out the mission set for them by the Quest.
Australian writer William Kondylis deftly weaves his plot with clearly defined, sympathetic characters. He uses simple, clear language, and lively imagery and dialogue—a treat for any youngster in the tender pre-teen and early teen years. It’s an age-old story, both well-told and fresh, if not quite so inventively and lushly told as J.K. Rowling’s tales. Adult readers may notice similarities with the Harry Potter stories, right down to the mean science teacher, but this won’t bother young readers, who will find much to enjoy and love in Oliver Caine’s in Trouble Again.
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