Thursday, February 4, 2021

Book Review: Ethan Murphy and the Quest for the Minal

Ethan Murphy is just an average boy living an average life… or so he thought. The only thing marring it is the fact that his dad broke a promise. Four years earlier, he promised to come back from one of his expeditions and never did. On Ethan’s thirteenth birthday he receives a gift from his grandfather, a very strange gift of some of his father’s belongings and an invitation to visit his grandfather’s house. That visit changes everything for Ethan who discovers that his archaeologist father was far more than that, his Aunt Matilda has been kidnapped, and that his family is involved in a secret organization! Moreover, his dad went missing while searching for a fabulous emerald, the Minal, supposedly belonging to Cleopatra. From an ordinary boy Ethan is turned into an extraordinary young investigator, relying on his wits, his skill in solving puzzles and acrostics, and his love for his family. With two new agents helping Ethan, this team of young agents must survive encounters with the bad guys, work out some very cryptic clues left by Ethan’s father, rescue Aunt Matilda, and retrieve the Minal before it falls into the wrong hands. When Ethan must finally go it alone, can he do it? Who can he trust? Who is a friend and who is a foe? Can he save his aunt and his new friends?

What a rollicking adventure! Ethan Murphy and the Quest for the Minal is full of action, many surprising twists and turns, nail-biting suspense, danger, history, mystery, and intrigue. The journey takes them to Egypt, and into a completely different geographical location, one they have never experienced before. Author Anita Mishra perfectly captures the mindset of this reluctant young hero and his compadres and the dialogues reflect teen concerns. Readers who are explorers at heart, who love mysteries, riddles and clues, and enjoy deciphering codes will devour this book. The puzzles are cryptic indeed, the clues are confusing at times, and time is running out! The dangers come thick and fast and Ethan must get to the bottom of the mystery because lives are at stake. 

Themes include loyalty, family, trust, betrayal and disillusionment, as well as courage, perseverance and hope, and not forgetting staying alive. I also really enjoyed the fact that there are no electronic communication devices (you never know who can hack in) so Ethan and his friends must work things out the old-fashioned way, using their minds. Egypt is a fascinating place and for the young reader interested in geography, new cultures, and faraway places, this is the perfect story to whisk them off to an ambiance of mystery and mayhem. A five-star story!


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