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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Everlasting: Historical Treasure Hunt Needs A Little Spit and Polish

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

A life at sea is hardly a suitable one for a young lady coming of age in 1855 San Francisco, but it's the only one 17-year-old Camille Rowen really wants. As much as she's tried to reconcile herself to the inevitability of her upcoming marriage, she can't seem to get excited about it. Her fiancee's well-bred, wealthy and kind. What more could she possibly need in a future husband? Just because her skin doesn't blaze at his touch doesn't mean she and Randall aren't perfectly suited to one another. Still, Camille jumps at the chance to accompany her father on one last voyage. The tangy scent of the sea fills her with a sense of adventure, excitement, and freedom - three things that will surely disappear the second she utters her wedding vows.
Motherless Camille's been traveling with her father long enough to realize there's something different about this trip. Captain Rowen's nervous. It's almost as if he's keeping secrets from her, something he's never done before. Camille's shocked when her father confesses the truth - without Randall's fortune to keep it secure, her father's company faces financial ruin. With that knowledge locked away in her lukewarm heart, Camille stumbles upon another secret: a recent letter from the mother she presumed dead. None of Caroline Rowen's words really make sense. She rambles about dying, desiring to see her long-lost daughter, and regret over running away with a stolen treasure map. Before Camille even has a chance to consider the import of this information, a violent storm batters her father's ship, killing almost everyone aboard.
Days later, Camille finds herself at an Australian port with only her friend Oscar by her side. Penniless, the two are drawn to Port Adelaide, where a dying woman holds the key to finding a priceless stone. With a greedy band of seamen on their tails, the pair embark on a dangerous journey filled with wily conmen, slavering beasts, venomous serpents, and a dark magic that pulls them ever closer to a gem with unimagined power. With her father lost at sea and a fiancee waiting at home while she tromps through the Australian wilderness with a lowly shipmate, it's time for Camille to make the ultimate decision: What matters most? Saving her father's company? Planning a future with the man she loves? Or risking all their necks to find a fabled stone? With her every dream on the line, Camille must choose - and wisely - which path to follow.
Newcomer Angie Frazier sprinkles historical fiction with a little Pirates of the Carribbean swashbuckling and a lot of Indiana Jones treasure-seeking in the grand adventure that is her first novel. There's enough conflict to keep Everlasting zipping right along, making the debut a fast, fun read. While few are fully fleshed out, the characters are engaging enough to keep the reader rooting for the good ones and booing the not-so-savory. That being said, the supernatural elements in the story just didn't add up for me. The magical subplot comes out of nowhere, but the ever practical Camille accepts it without question, proceeding on a life-threatening journey with very little hesitation. Other plot issues bugged me as did the flatness of some of the principle characters (namely Camille, Oscar and Capt. Rowen), all of which dampened my enjoyment of the whole book. While I was a little disappointed with her first venture, it's obvious that Frazier has the making of a fine storyteller. With a little spit and polish, this newbie's sure to shine.
(Readalikes: a little like The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi)
Grade: B-
If this were a movie, it would be rated: PG-13 for some language (no F-bombs), violence and sexual innuendo
To the FTC, with love: I received a finished copy of Everlasting from the generous folks at Scholastic. Thank you!


  1. Two things catch my attention: great cover. I want to pet it. And I'm craving anything involving historical fiction wich is weird for me. Might try this one from the 'brary.

  2. I've heard a lot about this book - it sounds really good! And I love the cover!

  3. Just reading through the synopsis, "Pirates Of The Caribbean" definitely came to mind! Sorry to hear about the flatness of the characters, though; that would definitely hinder my ability to get into the story. Still sounds fun, though!

  4. Try Angie Frazier's MG THE MIDNIGHT TUNNEL, A Suzanna Snow Mystery. The first of a series and I really LOVED this book. Better than Everlasting - even though I enjoyed Everlasting well enough.
    Hope your summer has been good, Susan!


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