The Secret of Sinbad's Cave by Brydie Walker Bain

I took this novel around July last year and finishing it sixteen months later (with apologies to the author), I can say that the young readers will love this book. This fantasy-adventure story reminds me so much of Steven Spielberg's 1985 film The Goonies regarding the search for a lost treasure and skirmishes with modern day hunters and pirates. This one though, is populated with vibrant New Zealand flora and fauna like nikau palm, rewarewa seedlings, kereru, tui, koura, Waitomo glow worm, and also elements and representatives of Maori Mythology like the Pouakai (Haast Eagle) , Taotoru (Orions Belt), and the patupaiarehe (fairy) bird.

Story-wise and as stated earlier, it caters to the YA readership but I think adult readers will also appreciate it especially if you love the New Zealand outdoors (as widely popularized by Peter Jackson's LOTR film trilogy) and the adventures of spelunking/potholing/caving. My only issue so far is how the character Mike was depicted as having no clue with regard to his daughter's whereabouts just after that child asked him about the location of hidden caves in the area. In real world, a parent can connect-the-dot quickly. It appears that Mike is the opposite, the counter-weight to Abraham's wisdom that creates a balancing order, an unexpected equilibrium shared by the two patriarchs for the whole pack. The children on the other hand are reckless being themselves and definitely lucky making you realize that you are indeed reading a fantastic novel. What I like most in this book are the background stories concerning the protagonist's ancestry, all ancient and in some angle, mythological. Tattoed Maori warriors summoned into haka dance is also a memorable scene.

Overall the adventure here is quick paced and there is a promise of new adventures and new worlds to see for the gang and especially for their leader Nat. For her though, this is just a first step.

Pounamu Taunga necklace

Genre: Fantasy-adventure, YA
Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

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