Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Anna-Mae Mysteries

The Anna-Mae Mysteries:
The Golden Treasure

by L. S. Cauldwell

(Star Publish / 1-932-99398-3 / 978-1-932-99398-1 / October 2008 / 228 pages / Ages 9-12 / $15.95 / $12.44 Amazon)

Reviewed by Celia Hayes for PODBRAM

Anna Mae Botts, the spunky heroine of the title, is at an awkward age – a bit more than a child, not quite a teenager, and burdened with slightly more than the average quantity of angst for her age. She has a tag-along younger brother Malcolm, and an eccentric grandmother who believes absolutely in ghosts, voo-doo and weird and smelly charms. She also has a best friend named Raul – who may become more than just a best friend, as Anna Mae grows up – as well as the enmity of the class bully and his circle at her middle school, who all insist that it was Anna Mae who set a fire which almost burned the whole school down. On top of it all, Anna Mae has a very personal haunt, a great black disembodied fist, which materializes at the very worst of times, and appears to be trying to direct Anna Mae on a quest. The quest is a search for a missing gold treasure, a fortune in gold ingots and coin, which vanished during the last days of the Confederacy. Led by Anna Mae’s visions, ably assisted by her little brother and Raul, and driven by her grandmother, at the wheel of a battered automobile which everyone admits is too much of a wreck for anyone to ever consider stealing, Anna Mae and her allies use every resource they have to track down and unearth the missing gold.

The charm of Anna Mae and her adventures are undeniable, launching as they are from a school experience that is as fraught as I recall my own being… except for the ghosts, the visions and the floating chalk scribbling messages on the blackboard. Anna Mae is relatively unflappable, brave and determined to get to the bottom of it all. Another of her charms is that she is stoutly assisted – and believed – by certain of the adults around here, which is a pleasant switch from the sort of story which often pitches a child hero or heroine against a wholly uncaring adult world.


L. S. Cauldwell is a member of the Independent Author’s Guild.

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