Imagine for a moment your world turns upside down in an instant.  Where you were an ordinary teen with ordinary parents and an ordinary life.  Then much of what you thought was true in the world is in fact not the case.  Meg and her friend Amanda and cousin Jaiden find themselves in a strange new world and although it had been there all along it is the worlds best kept secret.  This special world holds the key to the past and holds many secrets but even more than that is the family ties that links Meg and her friends to Nida Valley.  It is their destiny to protect it and to develop the magical skills to help them do that.  How do you save a world you didn’t know existed merely days ago?  A world filled with animals and plants thought long extinct.  A world filled with mystery and danger, a world that only opens doors to those whose destiny it is.  How do you become a guardian of a place filled with fantasy when you are a normal everyday girl?

Elaine Ouston draws the reader in from the very first page with well written thrills and suspense.  The Mystery of Nida Valley is based in the deep forests of Queensland, Australia where one could easily imagine Elaine’s fictional world hidden away.  Actual prehistoric megafauna combined with the mystical also aids the imagination on the journey.  I love the characters who are very realistic young teens.  Each with different journeys and skills.  A touch of romance is thrown in for good measure but honestly this book is filled with so many thrills it is hard to put down.

I enjoyed this book on so many levels, as a reader I loved its thrills and adventure.  As a parent I love that it is age appropriate but takes nothing from the story to be that way.  As an educator I think it is a brilliant incorporation of a good story that teens will love while picking up interesting facts about Australian prehistoric animals which can be explored further.  Well done Elaine!

A Bug in a Book recommended read.

Angela Hall

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