Tory and her friends live on an island near the city of Charleston. Their parents work as researchers for the university’s veterinary facility. What they haven’t told their families is that they have all been infected with a mutated virus that gave them wolf abilities – better sight, hearing, smell, though each is better than the others in one thing. They have been testing out their new abilities when disaster strikes: the facility is being closed down, the animal reserve will probably be sold to developers and the friends will be split. What to do? Well…there’s always buried pirate treasure to seek. And the Charleston area is overflowing with pirate history, including that of notorious woman pirate Anne Bonny. And Anne left a treasure map…
This is the second book in the series, but apart from the appearance, late in the book, of a character from the first novel, it can pretty much stand alone. I haven’t read the first book and I had no trouble with it at all.
Kathy Reichs is best known for her series about forensic anthropologist Tempe Brennan, on which the TV series Bones is loosely based. I’ve read several of them and I have to say I never expected the author to have a go at YA fiction. Tory is Tempe’s grandniece, which made for an odd feeling when I first picked up this book; you don’t expect a straight crime series to have a companion series with fantastical elements. In fact, there were a number of Reichs fans at the Sisters In Crime convention I attended last year who were complaining bitterly about it.
I have to wonder, now, if they had actually read either this book or the first one. Odd as the idea is, the book itself is a hoot. Think The Goonies with superpowers. The author definitely had a nod to that movie in mind, as she has a character mention it at one point. There’s also a scene in which Tory and her Dad watch Bones on TV, without telling us if it’s a documentary series, since Tempe Brennan is a real person in this universe.
But it’s huge fun. The characters have superpowers all right, but they can’t be sure when they will “flare” and it takes different things to get them flaring. Shelton has to be scared. Ben has to be angry to get it going, which means the others have to upset him. Tory is the only one who can join them as a “pack” and communicate telepathically.
The kids are desperate to find the treasure, but they aren’t the only ones after it and spend most of the novel being chased, shot at and otherwise threatened by other treasure-seekers. I found myself grinning, chortling and laughing out loud.
And it’s lucky it was written by this particular author, who is herself a forensic anthropologist, because otherwise I would have wondered how well a three-hundred-year-old document would survive being carried around in a girl’s backpack while she’s nearly killed in several violent ways. But Kathy Reichs is both a forensic scientist and a former archaeologist and if she says it’s possible I’ll accept that.
I’m looking forward to trying out this one on the students who have been reading Justin Richards, Anthony Horowitz and Charlie Higson’s adventure novels.