In this YA fantasy debut, three siblings find themselves ensnared in a plot by demons to rule the world.
Seven years ago, Jon, Kelly, and Travis Bishop were out driving at night with their parents when their minivan suddenly crashed. Despite the efforts of Jon—age 10—and a few strangers, the children’s parents died. Now Jon is a high school junior, Kelly is 13, and Travis is 10. After seven years apart in various homes, the siblings have reunited under the care of Chris and Angie McCormick of Chantilly, Virginia. One day, the kids venture to Crystal Creek Park with Chris and local teachers Anton Edwards and Mark Parrish to explore Pandora’s Cave. As Kelly films the natural splendors with a camcorder, the group experiences a cave-in. Next, they stumble upon a horde of demons gathered before a stage. A human businessman then addresses the creatures, promising them a way to supplant humanity on the surface world. Soon, the demons discover the explorers and chase after them. Kelly, Travis, and Dr. Parrish escape—while the others wait for a rescue team. Eventually, the rescuers exit the cave, stating that they are fine and repeating the mantra that they “must work hard and fast.” Jon emerges at last—but now speaks with a perfect British accent. Author Gemmill has supercharged his YA debut with a tantalizing dose of oddness. Even before meeting the Demon Nation, readers learn that Kelly can read minds, Travis can feel others’ emotions, and Jon is a practicing swordsman. After leaving Pandora’s Cave, the mysterious “head injuries” that Chris and Jon suffer lead to erratic behavior: Chris holes up in the basement to create a secret “product” while Jon trains himself as a magician. Amid all this, Gemmill inserts some great science tidbits, like the cavern flowers created by a “trace amount of limestone in every [water] drop.” Later, heroine Kelly offers the sinister claim that with her telepathy, nobody could stop her from becoming president. Overall, Gemmill toys with his audience in truly subtle ways.
An up-all-night read that’s clever and heartfelt.