Jones’ debut YA novel sees young adventurers attempt to retrieve a series of Native American amulets and save Maine’s Mount Desert Island.
Abenaki lore states that the tribe once shared Mount Desert Island, Maine, with gigantic lobsters. When the two groups began crowding each other, the lobsters agreed to leave for the ocean. The Abenaki promised to continue properly caring for the land. Both tribes sealed the agreement by creating an orb, which they secured in the base of Cadillac Mountain. Now, greedy industrialist Barton Baxter has learned about the orb from an ancient Abenaki parchment. By stealing it, he sets disastrous events in motion that threaten everyone on Mount Desert Island. Marine biologist Dr. Banke is summoned from Boston to discover why lobsters are congregating at the island—growing larger and more ferocious in the process. Meanwhile, forces have placed another Abenaki book, once belonging to Baxter’s childhood friend Amelia, in the hands of Ani, Banke’s teenage daughter. Ani and her sister, Eliza, must race to locate amulets that Amelia once wore and restore the covenant between the Abenaki and the lobsters—before the crustaceans retake the island. Jones uses clear, clever prose to narrate Ani and Eliza’s quest: “Unbeknownst to most humans, squirrels run subterfuge on a regular basis [keeping] Homo sapiens from seeing what really happens in the animal kingdom.” There’s also a reverence for nature throughout, emphasized by Ani’s communication with animals. But these plot points only hint at Jones’ always rollicking imagination and penchant for twists, as when Eliza thinks she sees Spider-Man. While primarily for younger readers, the novel also includes adult subtlety: Barton thinks of long-lost Amelia and doesn’t “want his mind to go where it always took him, but lately he had been too tired and too weak to stop both his memory and his what-ifs.”
Irresistible storytelling and a meticulous plot conjure pure New England magic.