Saturday, 20 October 2012

The Mystery of Nida Valley Book Two: Captured

Captured (Mystery of Nida Valley) Captured (Mystery of Nida Valley) by E. J. Ouston (Morris Publishing Australia)
PB RRP $22.95
ISBN 978-0-9872444-4-4
Reviewed by Anastasia Gonis

In Book One, The Mystery of Nida Valley, we met Meg when her friend Amanda disappeared during a High School excursion. The ghost of Charles leads her to the whereabouts of Amanda. Meg and her cousin Jaiden discover the handle on the painted gate of the mural that leads them to Nida Valley, a magical place, secret and protected, where megafauna and dinosaurs live. Here Meg first learns of the powers that she has inherited from her ancestors, the Guardians of Nida. She also learns that Amanda’s parents, zoo keepers and magical animal controllers, were killed by the Red Dragon of the cave in Nida Valley.

Meg realizes she’s a healer after her horse Bluey sprains his leg. Many puzzling questions need answering, so she is given a Book of Magic left to her by her grandmother. This makes Meg over-eager to learn everything quickly. But there are other people who also have special powers, all belonging to the Founding Families of the Valley. There are wondrous things to discover through these powers which must only be used for good. But  there are dangers at every turn. Things and people are not always what they seem. Mysterious happenings and sabotages take place frequently. And someone is trying to kill Meg. No one knows who or why. Then there is  Grundymere, an insidious person with plans to take over the Valley for money-making purposes. Situations are being sabotaged and the traitor is still to be found.

Book Two: Captured continues with Meg passionate about saving the ancient creatures of the Valley from extinction. She’s desperate to test the time-travel portal found in the cave. Her plan is to return to the past and bring back company for her beloved Willie, the giant wombat. But  Meg must learn that when something is removed from the past, there are consequences on the present. Meg’s skills are increasing daily and she is seen as the next leader of the Guardians. To this end she is being tutored on the Book of Magic, secret potions and invisible spells.

There is no sign of the three stolen pteros anywhere. In the meantime, exciting and dangerous adventures are being undertaken by Meg and her friends. There is a kidnapping and more attempts on Meg’s life. But she is a courageous and daring young girl, yet ready to foolishly disobey rules in order to achieve her dream. But it also appears that her challenges could well be tests to her ability, skill and courage; a way for her to prove that she is capable of taking on the leadership role when the time comes.

This series holds magical and exciting adventures with an environmental theme running through it. There are wonderful sub stories flowing through and around the central  story like streams and rivulets which lead the reader to other places and other conclusions, then seamlessly draws them back again. The characters are outstanding: cruel and scheming, loving and forgiving, ruthless and daring. A third book is due early next year. The series is ideal for ages 9-16.

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