Alternating first person accounts create a multi-genre adventure with an intriguing plot.
Chapter one is told by an Inca girl in 1458 as she’s taken high up on a mountain in Peru and left there to freeze to death as a human sacrifice. Fast forward to the present, where 38-year-old professional treasure hunter Jake scales said mountain and discovers the mummy. The amulet that Jake steals from the mummy turns out to be a rare metal alloy that governments, corporations and crooks want desperately. Is there more hidden in the Peruvian Andes? Jake brings 15-year-old Emma (niece) and 11-year-old Joel (nephew) on the quest. Peruvian anthropologist Estrella joins them as they hike into the wilderness seeking the alloy and lost Quechua culture and architecture. A violent, unscrupulous usurper follows them as they discover poverty stricken Inca descendents and a hidden cave with a wealth of information. Alongside the mystery, Pritchard crams in other genres–environmentalism, problem novel (Emma’s an amputee with a prosthetic arm), dense science and mountain-climbing technicalities and bits of fantasy–that, joined with the copious historical background, slow the pace. Many of the adventure plot points are improbable or too convenient, and an adult perspective awkwardly pervades the voice of both narrators.
Despite some stiffness, however, after being captured by the frigid mountaintop sacrifice of Munray in chapter one, readers will certainly want to follow to the end the fate of her people’s descendents. (Quechua glossary, chronology of Incan emperors, bibliography) (10-12)