The Swallowtail Legacy: Wreck at Ada’s Reef
Michael D. Beil
Pixel + Ink
Published February 1, 2022
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About Wreck at Ada’s Reef
Twelve-year-old Lark Heron-Finch is steeling herself to spend the summer on Swallowtail Island off the shores of Lake Erie. It’s the first time that she and her sister will have seen the old house since their mom passed away. And while her stepfather and his boys are okay, the island’s always been full of happy memories–and now everything is different.
When Nadine, a close family friend, tells Lark about a tragic boat accident that happened off the coast many years before, Lark’s enthralled with the story. Nadine’s working on a book about Dinah Purdy, Swallowtails’s oldest resident who had a connection to the crash, and she’s sure that the accident was not as it appeared. Impressed by Lark’s keen eye, she hires her as her research assistant for the summer.
And then Lark discovers something amazing. Something that could change Dinah’s life. Something linked to the crash and even to her own family’s history with Swallowtail. But there are others on the island who would do anything to keep the truth buried in the watery depths of the past.
A compelling and complex mystery with a classic feel, WRECK AT ADA’S REEF is perfect for fans of THE PARKER INHERITANCE, HOLES, THE WESTING GAME, and anyone looking for a satisfying puzzle that stretches across decades.
Confession: I haven’t read any of the books that the blurb compares this one to, so I had no idea whether I would like it going in. I tend to enjoy mysteries with a young narrator (see my reviews of THE SWEETNESS AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PIE or THREE TIMES LUCKY), so I figured this was a pretty good gamble.
And, you know what? It totally was. It takes place on this small island. The residents we meet are all really distinct characters who bring a lot to the story. I loved the relationships Lark develops between the other islanders. I also loved watching her connections with her family members change and grow, too.
Lark is a no-nonsense girl who doesn’t back down from a fight, ever, so when she stumbles onto an unsolved mystery that might have hurt the people she’s coming to care about, she’s ready to put the full force of her personality behind uncovering the truth.
I thought the pacing of the story was great, too. There’s a lot of tension as we begin to put the pieces together about what happened at Ada’s Reef that long ago night. Interspersed with the tension are sweet moments with Lark and her stepdad as well as silly moments with her and her siblings or other characters.
All together, I’m pretty hooked on this series so far. I loved this book and would absolutely read more about Swallowtail Island and its inhabitants. I think fans of middle grade mysteries like the books I mentioned above or the Northwoods mystery books by Margi Preus would really enjoy WRECK AT ADA’S REEF.
Recommended for Ages 8 to 12.
Lark is white and an orphan. A couple minor characters are gay.
Profanity/Crude Language Content
At one desperate point, Lark states that she’s not religious, but offers a prayer to whatever gods are listening.
Situations of peril.
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