Set in 16th-century feudal Japan, a slow, uninvolving episode in the adventures of two wandering samurai previously met in Namioka's The Coming of the Bear (1992). A mysterious figure in a white fox mask is fomenting rebellion in a misty, newly annexed valley—intending, it turns out, not to throw out the small occupying force, but to steal its payroll and leave the locals to their fate. Enter unemployed ronin (masterless samurai) Zenta and Matsuzo, who discover that they've been cleverly maneuvered only after helping with the heist, but do manage to recover the gold, thus saving the valley's residents from slaughter. The contrast between impulsive Matsuzo and his crafty, saturnine mentor Zenta plays as well as ever, but that's all that works here: The pace never picks up after the hookless, sluggish opening scene; readers expecting suspense, heroics, authentic atmosphere, or at least some action will come away disappointed; and the fleeting appearance of a second, possibly supernatural White Fox is as forced as the attraction that develops between Zenta and Kinu, daughter of a once-noble clan and the valley's secret jujitsu instructor. The criminal mastermind's escape at the end implies his return in future adventures, but the series is plainly running out of steam. (Fiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: May 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-15-201282-6

Page Count: 213

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1997

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet


Yolen and Harris conclude their planned quartet of Scottish novels with this tale of the 18th-century Highland Clearances. When the Macallans are suddenly harried off their rented farmstead by their new Laird’s cruel factor to make way for herds of English sheep, teenaged Roddy sneaks back to the burned-out croft in search of a brooch given to the family generations ago by Bonnie Prince Charlie. Just as he finds it, the Laird happens by, seizes the treasure and orders Roddy’s murder—but along comes bootlegger and ex-soldier Alan Dunbar to the rescue. With the help of the old Laird’s canny daughter Josie, they contrive to steal the brooch back—killing the factor in the process and setting off a breathless chase over the rugged hills. As in some of the previous volumes, the plot relies heavily on coincidences, and the characters (some of whom are tenuously based on historical figures) often come across as mouthpieces to explain the historical situation or rail at the unjustness of it all. Still, the authors weave strong feelings and a clear sense of setting into a story that gains momentum as it progresses and also ends happily. A good finish to the quartet, with echoes of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Kidnapped to savor. (Fiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-399-23898-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2007

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet


Hobbs (Beardream, p. 462, etc.), setting his novel on Washington's Cape Flattery in 1874, presents a hero who not only has the intelligence to solve a murder, but the resources to help bring a killer to justice. Nathan MacAllister, 14, has a fairly exciting life as a de facto assistant lighthouse keeper to his father, retired Captain Zachary MacAllister. When not tending the lighthouse, Nathan looks after his sick mother and fishes with a friend, Lighthouse George, a Makah fisherman. When a sailing ship, the L.S. Burnaby, crashes on the rocks near the lighthouse, and the captain's murdered body washes ashore, Nathan becomes an amateur sleuth. At first, he believes (as the Makah do) that an evil spirit is at work, but certain events—his neighbor, Captain Bim, burying a treasure box at night, the discovery of a skeleton in a Makah canoe hanging in the treetops, the appearance of a charismatic yet strange new shopkeeper, Mr. Kane—lead Nathan to sensibly conclude that the mystery has more to do with real people than ghosts. While the mystery is compelling, it is Hobbs's deft weaving of Makah culture into the story that resonates, from their harvesting of wood without cutting any trees to their generosity to friends. A robust adventure in an intriguing setting. (map) (Fiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: April 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-688-14193-5

Page Count: 195

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1997

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet