A sense of foreboding sets in the moment fourteen-year-old twins Rachel and Adam arrive from New York to visit their English grandmother. The station is empty, village streets are deserted, locals are hostile, and even their frail Granny Root is oddly distant. And who is the strange boy, Gabriel, who speaks to them telepathically, and what about the bees that appear to follow a mysterious force? It all seems tied up with the Triskellion — a symbol etched in chalk on the moors — and an ancient feud that keeps villagers warily apart. With a growing sense of danger, the twins must unearth a secret that has protected the village for centuries, one that reveals a shocking truth about their ancestors — and themselves. (from Goodreads)
I picked this up at Borders last month for three reasons: it was on sale; it had an interesting cover; the summary on the back included the phrase “archaeological adventure.” Utterly and totally impossible to resist, and luckily it turned out pretty good!
From the get-go I assumed the plot would be a mix between The X-Files and Escape to Witch Mountain, and I was pretty much right! The twins have freaky brain powers, and the writing itself feels kinda like those X-Files novelizations (but better). It starts off a little slow, but by the time I was a third of the way in I was hooked. The last third especially flew by fast; I actually stayed up ’til 3am to finish it! I’m glad I did because I honestly don’t think I could have slept if I hadn’t. The plot is by turns fascinating and ridiculous, and as a bonus you get a little romance and some archaeology.
The characters were decently crafted, though I think Adam tended to lack a bit in the personality department. Rachel was definitely well-done, and Gabriel– the friend the twins make who can do freaky brain stuff, too– was a really good mix between dangerous bad boy and heroic good boy. Most of the secondary characters were just outlines of people, but Jacob Honeyman, the local beekeeper (seriously), was by turns sympathetic and disgusting, and Hilary Wing was a nicely-done maniacal villain.
I did have a few problems, mostly with one particular scene where the twins tell someone their secrets and that person basically accepts them as fact, even though anyone else would think the twins were lying. No doubt, no denial, and the only explanation is that after looking at a few dead bodies with their hearts missing, they can believe anything. It just doesn’t seem like a good enough reason. I am thinking now, though, that maybe in the next book it might be explained more.
There are several questions that never get fully answered, like just who Gabriel is or what’s so weird about the dead bodies (besides the obvious thing-which-is-a-spoiler) or even what part the bees play in the whole thing. I would say, though, that you can read this book and maybe not feel the need to read the next, if you feel you’ve got enough answers to satisfy your curiosity. (It reminds me of Skellig that way.) The ending is happy but also a cliffhanger, and I hope that all the questions are answered sufficiently in the next two books (it’s a trilogy). I do plan on reading them! Er, but book isn’t coming out until sometime later this year, and book three won’t be out until 2010. Darn!
Overall, I had a wonderful time reading this, and I’d easily recommend it for people who like paranormal mixed in with a bit of Celtic/nature mythology (and possibly sci-fi), including children. Oh! Also, if you go to the Triskellion website, there’s a map and some extras available for download.
Read: January 2009