THE KEY TO THE INDIAN by Lynne Reid Banks


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In a patchy fifth volume in the series of books that began with The Indian in the Cupboard (1980), Banks delves into Omri's family history to explain his psychic powers, and sends him back in time twice: first on a brief but bruising visit to early 20th-century India, then to the longhouse of his Mohawk friend, Little Bear. Summaries of past events and elaborately laid groundwork slow the pace, but it picks up after Omri summons his ancestor, Jessica Charlotte, to create another magic key--not to the cupboard, but to the family car--and with his father jumps back to the 18th century to help rescue Little Bear's people from Europeans. The stereotyping and cultural parochialism some critics have found in this series is particularly evident here; not only does Omri characterize (Asian) Indians as ""superstitious,"" and later fret that his father is ""going native,"" but Little Bear's attackers are downright subhuman, in contrast to the uniformly noble Mohawks. To lighten the mood, the author tacks on a superfluous adventure, in which two of Omri's animated figurines are washed down the drain and have to be fished from the septic tank. Along with piecemeal plotting and broadly brushed characters, Banks leaves gaps in logic to puzzle even inveterate fans.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1998
Page count: 228pp
Publisher: Camelot/Avon