In this middle-grade novel, 12-year-old Addie B. isn’t eager to spend the summer with her boy cousins, but when the four of them discover a mysterious moonstone inside a cave, they embark on an adventure that reveals their individual strengths and tests their mettle as a family.
It’s the first time Addie has been back to her grandparents’ seaside home in Maine since her beloved grandmother passed away, and her grief is still raw. When her three cousins, Jack, Bodie and Beanie, discover a strange stone inside a nearby sea cave, Addie reluctantly follows them to learn more about it.
They follow a path through the cave on a magical adventure leading through a series of doors and worlds. They meet a mysterious woman who resembles a younger version of their grandmother and face trials that test their reliance on each other and their own strengths, in order to find their way home again. Addie’s early hesitation about her male cousins is forgotten on the journey, and she quickly becomes the savvy leader of the group.
In this first book of the Heath Cousins series, Hobbs has written a colorful, well-paced adventure that touches on themes of grief, heritage, and identity while introducing a hint of Native American mythology. The cousins’ grandmother was Native American, and Addie wishes she could have learned more about her grandmother’s culture, and how it shapes her own identity.
There are a few moments of inconsistency in the writing when the point of view switches unexpectedly from Addie to Jack in a few places, revealing Jack’s thoughts and fears. But these instances are not a major distraction. The black and white illustrations have a graphic novel quality to them that is appealing as well.
Overall, this short chapter book is an entertaining read with a take-charge female protagonist that young fantasy readers will likely enjoy.
Also available as an ebook.