An accident brings a 10-year-old boy face to face with the infamous Loch Ness monster and lands him in the middle of a mystical battle for Scotland in this middle-grade novel from Cooper (Jason Steed: Royal Decree, 2014, etc.).
Archie Wilson’s world is in ruins. After his beloved mother is killed in a car crash, the London boy is sent to dreary Foyers, Scotland, to live with his father—a man he’s never met and knows nothing about. Yet despite the pain and sadness he feels, he senses something calling to him from the murky depths of nearby Loch Ness. While peering into the gigantic lake one afternoon, he loses his footing and tumbles into the ice-cold water. He tries to swim to the surface only to find something has “clasped his ankle tight,” pulling him deeper in the darkness. When the boy awakens later in an underwater cavern, he receives the shock of a lifetime: the Loch Ness monster is real. But rather than being a threat to humans, the gentle-hearted sea dragon (who goes by the name of Gordon) is an ally who’s protected mankind for centuries. Later, when an evil creature threatens to rear its ugly head, Gordon must decide whether to risk his freedom to save the human race again—or it may be up to Archie to tackle the dreaded Nuckelavee. This fast-paced, multilayered adventure story is ideal for young readers to curl up with under the covers. Action abounds, but Cooper also invests heavily in the emotional life of his protagonist. As a result, the day-to-day trials that Archie faces at home and in school are just as engrossing as his battles with mythical creatures. In particular, the author beautifully renders Archie’s evolving relationships with his father as well as with his friend Chloe. Overall, this story will connect with kids despite the text’s occasional copy-editing and formatting errors. Cooper masterfully plays with well-worn myths and folklore to create a new Scottish tale imbued with its own playful magic.
Heartfelt, witty, and wonderfully original.