Strange things are happening to Howell. When his mother crashes her car and disappears in the Sierras, Howell’s weird uncle convinces Howell’s father that this is not something the police can solve. Howell’s mother was kidnapped—and only Howell can save her! It would be easy to dismiss this, except, at the same time, an unknown Latino blind boy rescues Howell from school bullies; a Haitian-Creole deaf girl stops him from falling into a pit that magically appears in his bedroom; and, a Native-American girl appears in his town, accompanied by a large grey wolf. Howell’s uncle insists everything relates to Howell’s upcoming birthday, his need to journey through the Crossingway—whatever that is—and the need for the Howell to complete the Transfer—whatever that is!
Despite Howell’s doubts, his uncle convinces Howell’s father of the risks he faces if he stays in the town. Against his wishes, Howell is whisked away to a school for potential Doeths (special children) in New Mexico. Still Howell doubts. Not even his schoolmates, three of whom mysteriously appeared to him earlier, can overcome the mocking voices in his head. When he gives in to his doubts, he is speedily returned home.
Only by putting his doubts aside, solving an intricate puzzle, and temporarily defeating his sister’s new, menacing boyfriend can he return to his new friends. But the relentless Drygoni (evil ones) attack the school, seeking the transfer of special powers, meant for Howell, for themselves. Some of Howell’s schoolmates have already succumbed, aiding the Drygoni in their attempts to overcome Howell and his friends
When finally rescued from the school, Howell and his friends embark on a perilous journey. They arrive at a haunted kiva filled with Drygoni. Here Howell discovers the connection between his missing mother, the proposed transfer, and the intended marriage of his sister and her sinister boyfriend.
Few young adult mystery novels focus on the wealth of multi-cultural material and characters available in the United States. Here there are not only a wide range of mysterious places and happenings available, but each child in the story, whether Native-American, European-American, Asian-American, Latino or Haitian-American, brings elements of his or her own language, stories, cultures and mythologies.
published now by Austin McCauley, London. 2020
The roar of water tumbling down the gully from the mesa top grows louder. I keep my eyelids tightly closed.
A hand grabs my shoulder. “Look at me!”
“Yes. Look at me!”
I squint through my eyelids, not knowing what will happen.
“Look into my eyes,” Leonel shouts.
I open my eyes. The thing I was told not to look at is before me—reflected in Leonel’s sunglasses. Beneath the heavy boulder behind me, the glaring white eyes of a huge coiled snake holding the identicals in place. Slowly its hypnotic eyes fix on me.
“You’re safe as long as you don’t look at it directly, Leonel shouts above the roar of the rushing water. “See its reflection in my glasses.”
“Grab the twins,” Dani shouts.
“Don’t listen to her,” snaps the voice of Professor Lucian. “Leaders face their opponents. A leader is never scared. Face the snake. Stare into its eyes. Challenge it! Defeat it!”
The water now roars around our waists. Broken tree branches crack against our legs, and large lumps of saltbush and tumbleweed wrap themselves around our knees, threatening to pull us into the current. Leonel’s nails dug into my shoulder. “Keep looking at its reflection in my glasses. Guide my hand to one of the Jimis. You grab the other.” I place Leonel’s hand on the shoulder of one Jimi and my hand on the other.