‘Captured’ by Elaine Ouston
‘Captured’, the second in the Mystery of Nida Valley series captures the reader in a web of intrigue and magic, spells and potions, teleporting and time travel. It casts a spell that compels us to read on with excitement, anticipation and dread. The good guys exercise their powers to protect the wondrous secrets held within the Valley while the bad guys weave their evil to attempt to take over the Valley so they can commercialise it.
The book has many levels. At one level we have teenagers being thrust into situations where they need to develop the skills and maturity to take their places as leaders in a ‘Brave New World’. At that level we walk with them through what amounts to an initiation process where they are forced to question their resolve, their courage and ethical stance as they face dangerous situations.
At another level we have an excellent example of the struggle between those who value the planet and want to retain some natural environment for future generations, and those who are only interested in plundering the resources for profit.
The book also provides a storehouse of scientific knowledge. Elaine has carefully researched Australia’s pre-history and brings us in close contact with a huge family of mega fauna; those creatures that swam, walked, slithered or flew on this land millions of years ago. There is even a real fire-breathing dragon to round out the animal kingdom.
Each person wears a Dick Tracey-like watch that provides the ability to communicate, and teleport. And, just like Harry Potter and his cronies, they wield magic wands carefully disguised as pens.
One of the important aspects of this series is that it encourages full use of the imagination. Readers find it easy to identify with one or other of the characters and to share vicariously in their experiences. This provides an important foil against the passive and mindless television, iphone and xbox activities most teenagers spend their time with.
So we have a series of books for teenagers of all ages who will be enthralled by the characters and their activities, mind-stretched by the magic and mystery, educated by the environmental issues and science, and delighted by the eventual defeat of evil.
Move over Harry Potter. It is time to make room for the Mystery of Nida Valley.