Tag Archives: artifact

Review: The Silver Box by Margi Preus

The Silver Box by Margi Preus

The Silver Box
Margi Preus
University of Minnesota Press
Published October 6, 2020

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About The Silver Box

In the final Enchantment Lake mystery, Francie’s search for the truth about her mother—and herself—plunges her into danger during a North Woods winter

When she wakes in her aunts’ cold cabin on the shore of Enchantment Lake, Francie remembers: everything about her life has changed. Or is about to. Or just might. Everything depends on the small, engraved silver box that she now possesses—if only she can follow its cryptic clues to the whereabouts of her missing mother and understand, finally, just maybe, the truth about who she really is. 

Francie, it turns out, has a lot to learn, and this time the lessons could be deadly. Her search for answers takes her and her best friends Raven and Jay as far afield as an abandoned ranch in Arizona and as close to home as a sketchy plant collector’s conservatory and a musty old museum where shadows lurk around every display case. At the heart of it all is a crime that touches her own adopted North Woods: thieves dig up fragile lady’s slippers, peel bark from birches, strip moss off trees, cut down entire forests of saplings to sell for home décor. But Francie is up against no ordinary plant theft. One ominous clue after another reveal that she possesses something so rare and so valuable that some people are willing to do anything to get it. When Francie’s investigation leads her into the treacherously cold and snowy North Woods, she finds out  that she too is being pursued.

My Review

I’m so glad I got to read all three of the books in this series so close together. All three books were super enjoyable– definitely brought back some great memories of reading Nancy Drew books when I was younger. I love Francie and Raven and the adventures that they face.

One of the other things I enjoyed is the fact that environmental issues are so well-integrated into the story. I felt like the facts and issues never sounded forced, but they added a lot of intrigue to the mystery and kept the stakes pretty high all the way through the book.

I recommend starting with ENCHANTMENT LAKE, since it gives you a chance to get to know some of the other characters first, but the mystery plot is fairly self-contained, so I think readers who wanted to start with this book could do so.

This book begins immediately after A CLUE IN THE TREES leaves off, so if you have the opportunity to read them back to back, I think that will also be more enjoyable, but not at all necessary. Each story contains a standalone mystery.

Like the other two books in the Enchanted Lakes series, THE SILVER BOX is a quick read. I think mystery lovers will definitely enjoy the pacing of this book as well as its unforgettable characters and charming Northwoods setting. It’s an excellent series to get lost in if you’re looking for an engrossing story or something to distract from reality.

Content Notes

Recommended for Ages 10 up.

Francie’s best friend Raven is a Native American.

Profanity/Crude Language Content

Romance/Sexual Content
Francie is dating a boy who is away at college.

Spiritual Content

Violent Content
Francie discovers the body of a woman who’s been hit over the head. She and another character face kidnapping and other situations of peril.

Drug Content

Note: I received a free copy of THE SILVER BOX in exchange for my honest review. This post contains affiliate links, which do not cost you anything to use, but which help support the costs of running this blog.

Review: Hit the Ground Running by Mark Burley

Hit the Ground Running
Mark Burley
Blue Moon Publishing
Published April 25, 2017

Amazon | Goodreads

A terrifying video from his brother leads Eric to think something is terribly wrong. When he learns his parents are missing, and confirms his brother’s disappearance after the video seems to show him captured and possibly shot, Eric vows to help them. He can’t do much from his remote boarding school location, but with the help of the lovely and talented Tess, who agrees to play his girlfriend in an effort to throw off pursuers, and Tess’s friends who possess some pretty amazing online skills, Eric just might have a chance at cracking the mystery and bringing his family home safely.

What Eric finds as he reaches his parents’ lab in California changes the whole game. Secret artifacts point to a dangerous ritual, and deadly assassins close in on Eric’s trail. Eric must outwit those chasing him in time to locate his family and plan their rescue.

This book pretty much had me at parkour. Apparently I’m a total sucker for stories which feature characters with an unusual interest (see my review of Graffiti Moon or Everything, Everything, which happily features another parkour kid!) so this book had me really curious.

I feel like Blue Moon Publishers has been a little hit and miss with me in terms of books I like. Hit the Ground Running was a huge win. The sense of mystery and high stakes yanked me through page after page well past my bedtime. Eric’s concern for his family and his conflicting feelings about Tess won me over superfast. The story isn’t completely from Eric’s point-of-view. Several chapters are from Tess’s point-of-view, and we get a couple of other characters sneaking in from time to time to give us their input.

If you like action-packed stories with high stakes, you will want to have this one on your summer reading list.

Recommended for Ages 13 up.

Cultural Elements
Major characters appear to be white. One of Eric’s allies is wheelchair-bound. He and his twin sister still enjoy a lot of active sports like surfing.

Profanity/Crude Language Content
Mild profanity used infrequently.

Romance/Sexual Content
A brief kiss.

Spiritual Content
Eric tells his allies about a strange situation his parents looked into, in which a dead person resurrected to exact revenge. He calls this person a Revenant. He learns his parents may have found an artifact which can be used in a ritual to grant something like resurrection, but without the gory grossness that comes from being Revenant and needing revenge, still decomposing.

Tess’s necklace shows a Makara, a mythical creature from Hindu mythology. There’s a brief description of some Hindu beliefs associated with the Makara and creation and such.

Violent Content
Eric sees video which shows a dark image of his brother getting shot. He discovers the body of a man whose throat has been cut. Bad guys chase him, he tries to escape. Some depictions of kidnapping (bound captive tossed into a trunk).

Brief reference to torture.

Drug Content

Note: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.


Review: Above by Jason Chabot

Above (Broken Sky Chronicles #2)
Jason Chabot
Harper Trophy
Published September 1, 2015

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

When a hidden figure hits Elia with a poisoned arrow, she knows the other members of the tribe she’s living with still haven’t accepted her into their ranks. In fact, one of them may be trying to kill her. The chief’s son tells her not to worry, and offers to introduce her to another outsider living in a neighboring village. Maybe this outsider will understand the significance of the artifact Elia fled Above to protect. If Elia can unlock its secrets, she can finally return home.

Elia goes to meet the woman, who like Elia fell from an island floating in the clouds of Above. While she’s away, Hokk, an outcast and Elia’s best friend, puts finishing touches on a plan to bring her home and himself escape to the world Above. The only way Hokk can silence the guilty memories of the lives he cost is to save Elia. He’ll bring her home no matter the cost.

If the summary of the book makes it sound like there’s a lot going on in this story, it’s because there is! People on floating islands, people on earth, people on the moon (who haven’t been heard from in years). It’s a lot to keep track of. The story focuses on several big settings, too: a tribe Below, a desert island Above, a rich home, and a towering capital city.

I loved the concepts of the story world. It was a lot to take in all at once, though, and I felt like the story didn’t have time to go deep in any one place. The setting descriptions are vivid and definitely show what things look like, but it was hard to figure out how things related to one another. Where was Hokk from, for instance? He calls his homeland Ago, but I couldn’t ever really figure out if that was a geographical location—somewhere else on earth? Or was he banished from another time? I suspect the answers are in the first book in the series, which probably contains a lot more of Hokk’s backstory.

Speaking of Hokk. I had a real love/hate relationship with that guy. Sometimes he did really smart things, sometimes he went all out to protect Elia (though it was hard to define his relationship with her), yet other times he did some pretty cruel things. I don’t know. I found those crueler moments to be a barrier for me to really wanting him to succeed.

I liked Elia– she had a lot of spunk and commitment, and often a lot of concern for others. But even Elia had some really selfish behaviors. And it’s not that she has to be perfect. Flawed characters can be really easy to fall in love with. I think what was missing for me on the part of both Hokk and Elia was remorse for their wrongs.

Overall, I thought the storyworld was really imaginative and different. This book would probably appeal to fantasy readers and those looking for an adventure story with emphasis on exploring and piecing together clues about artifacts. I’d recommend starting with the first book in the series, though.

Recommended for Ages 10 up.

Cultural Elements
Two cultures live separated by world/distance. The people from Above, islands floating in the sky, have tanned skin, blond hair and an extra, transparent eyelid that protects their vision from the sun. Those who live Below, on earth, have very pale skin and aren’t used to bright sunlight. No mention of other ethnic groups or orientations.

Profanity/Crude Language Content
Mild profanity used very infrequently.

Romance/Sexual Content
Brief kissing between a girl and boy.

Spiritual Content

Violent Content
Someone poisons a young woman and her pet with darts. A chief pieces the eyebrow of his best warrior as a sign of honor. A young man throws a woman off the edge of a cliff. A young woman subdues an enemy with the darts. A hunter catches and skins a rabbit for dinner. Those in Above live in fear of violent scavengers who are rumored to snatch people off the edges of islands. Scavengers don’t exist, though.

Drug Content
The darts used by the tribe have two kinds of poison: one deadly, and the other more of a strong sedative.

Elia learns of incense sticks with a calming effect. After the calm wears off, though, the user experiences anxiety and paranoia. She observes this in others and uses them herself.

Note: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.