A British man goes on a quest to stop a family curse and a worldwide plague in Landsberg’s debut adventure novel.
Jason is given a 125-year-old letter from his great-great-great-grandfather that implores his family to take a treasure, stashed in his own house, back to Brazil to halt a longtime curse. Along the way, Jason, his parents, Terry and Alison, and his sister, Lexy, discover what may be a cure for a lethal disease, caused by Amazonian macaws, which has recently hit America. The novel has a leisurely pace, but its slow tempo often works well, as much of the story is a mystery: Jason realizes that the trunk of treasures, sealed in 1879, contains materials dating from 1900 and later, and Alison slowly translates glyphs on parchment sheets. The story also incorporates touches of fantasy, particularly the titular relic, a statue so powerful that the family is warned not to stare at it. Naturally, they eventually witness its power when they finally make it to the Brazilian rain forest, along with bird disease specialist Dr. Hilary Fitzgerald. The author focuses more on teenagers Jason and Lexy than on their parents, and they are both admirable characters, although Jason can be a bit inconsistent; his remarkable intelligence, aptly displayed in his research on obscure birds, is jarringly offset by his immaturity (“Isn’t this cool, Mum?”). However, Roly, a young thief and con artist who finds a scrapbook about the treasure and tracks down the family, steals the story; although the author establishes him as an antagonist trying to blackmail the Hirleys, his cockney lilt, presented phonetically (“It’s always somefink, innit?”) gives him more than a little charm, particularly as he solidifies a potential romance with Lexy.
A fine long-lost treasure story featuring equal amounts of adventure and exhilaration.