Gorgons and centaurs and gnomes, oh, my! Young Arthur Grey and the Spyglass Squad must solve a riddle and find an ancient relic.
Finnish (The Society’s Traitor, 2012) sets his second novel about a mystical secret society, Historia, on a fictional island near Crete called Elysium. Twelve-year-old Arthur, his talking dog, Griffin, and his pals, the Spyglass Squad, go there to train. Historia has been plagued by a series of unsolved robberies, losing its investors in the process. Arthur is not just an Initiate there; he’s also a Relic Guardian descended from ancient Nordics. During his long hours of folklore lessons, he longs to learn the secrets of Guarding. One of many odd characters on Elysium, the bulging-eyed Ms. Featherweit, introduces the Initiates to a papyrus sheet covered with a mixture of Hittite, Minoan and Greek symbols—as well as symbols not yet identified. These unknown symbols turn out to be written in an obscure ancient language and are rumored to be the key to locating an undersea labyrinth and the fabled Minotaur, who guards a valuable ancient relic. Arthur and his reluctant friends take it upon themselves to locate the labyrinth and get the relic before a saboteur does, so that Historia will once again be secure. The plot is cluttered with trivia and references to Arthur’s first adventure in Peru, and readers may find it hard at times to follow his character development. Nevertheless, the initially timid Arthur eventually encounters a variety of creatures, perseveres through jousts and sea-horse races and eludes a mysterious white ghost. The real message Arthur has to learn is given to him by a faun: “Brains over strength and giving over greed.” Despite similarities to the Harry Potter series and its plethora of creatures, myth and history, Finnish is a dedicated, inventive author, and many young fantasy devotees will find this novel intriguing once it truly gets underway.
A densely packed middle-grade fantasy.