Published by Walden Pond Press on August 21, 2018
The small, run-down town of Eden is the only place Jenny Burns has ever called home. The roots of the trees are in her bones, the air of the mountains is in her breath, the lakes and rivers are in her blood. And that’s why, when her father loses his job and tells Jenny that they may have to move on from Eden, she knows she can’t let that happen.
The fever of New Zealand’s Central Otago gold rush still runs in the veins of Eden, and everyone knows the legend of Doc Magee: how he found the largest gold nugget anyone had ever seen and hid it somewhere in the hills before he disappeared. Jenny and her best friend, Pandora, know that if they can find the gold it’ll solve all their problems. But the way is fraught with mysteries, riddles and danger—and those are just the threats they know about. Before her quest is over, Jenny will have to face challenges from within as well as from without.
Jenny and Pandora are best friends, but very different. Jenny is tough and loud, but Pandora is quiet, lacking humor and full of truth. Together, they discover a treasure map (of a skeleton) that may lead them to a gold nugget which can change their future. Set in New Zealand in the aftermath of the gold rush, there’s an old west feel to the novel.
I like the variety in characters, and the depth to each. Each one has dealt with something in their past or present that is hard and I feel that in each character. Our two main characters are very different, but find ways to get along and enjoy each other. Jenny is dealing with some racial discrimination because of her darker “island” skin from her mother. Pandora has a bit of a disconnect because of her lack of humor and straight forwardness. Jenny’s dad is called “Hapless” for a reason – he’s very comically hapless… he cannot seem to grasp common sense ideas and often “forgets” things that would seem obvious and sensible. The other characters are very colorful and add much to the story, and I did enjoy the slight love interest between Jenny and one of the Chinese brothers.
Beyond the great characterization, I enjoyed the mystery and the clues that are solved with some outside help. I liked the twists and did not see the biggest reveal coming at the end (you’ll have to read to see what I mean). I enjoyed how each part unraveled, full of a bit of difficulty and some “aha” moments as Jenny and Pandora learn more about the past of the town and those in it.
An intriguing mystery that students will enjoy between the crazy antics of Jenny and comical foiled moments where everything seems like it’s about to go wrong. A really enjoyable story with characters you are unlikely to forget.
About the Author
Elinor Teele is the author of The Mechanical Mind of John Coggin (Walden Pond Press, ISBN: 978-0062345103) as well as a playwright. She graduated with a PhD from the University of Cambridge in 2005. Elinor lives with her family in New England. You can visit her online at www.elinorteele.com.
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