From Publishers Weekly
In this uneven, but ultimately effective first novel, 13-year-old Bryce Willems and his 10-year-old stepsister Megan move with their parents to Pinon Rim, a once booming Arizona mining town in the midst of a "renaissance" caused by the influx of artists like Bryce's father. But strange things are starting to happen in the sleepy community: a Navajo boy is found drowned, an old man and his dog go berserk, killing a sheriff's deputy. Then Megan, exploring a cave behind the Willem house, inadvertently unleashes the full fury of a powerful ancient spirit of the underworld. Bryce learns the Navajo legend of the spirit and also discovers that the spirit's wrath and not the failure of the Wizard mine, made Pinon Rim a ghost town a century before. He must find a way to stop the cycle before history repeats itself. The novel's first half drags, burdened by too many characters and too much exposition, so that the ominous events that are meant to build suspense are nearly buried in verbiage. Nonetheless, all the laboriously spun threads furiously unwind in a hair-raising, fast-paced climax that makes the rest worthwhile. Zell has a sure touch when presenting Navajo lore, and his young characters are exceptionally well drawn and engaging.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From School Library Journal
YA?A seemingly quiet little town harbors all of the favorite YA hobgoblins?possession, ancient curses, daring teens willing to risk all, and a semi-ambiguous ending that allows readers to breathe a sigh of relief that it's finally over, or imagine the mayhem just around the corner, as they please. Bryce Willems arrives at Pinon Rim with his artist father; stepmother; and younger stepsister, Megan, who envisions herself as a competent spelunker, which leads to trouble, and of course, those creepy, drippy, dark caves are such a perfect horror setting. Readers can feel the evil flowing out toward them even before Zell begins to describe it. Bryce and his friends are reasonably good portraits of typical young teens, but Megan as demon-seed is more problematic. This is not a great book, but it is an enjoyable one, and a step to offer to YAs ready to venture beyond Pike'n'Stine. If only the story were as terrific as the cover art!?Cathy Chauvette, Fairfax County Public Library, VA
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.