The Lost Cities: A Drift House Voyage (YA)
by Dale Peck
Review by Colleen Cahill
Bloomsbury USA Children's Books Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 1582348596
Date: 06 March, 2007 List Price $16.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Going to stay with a bachelor Uncle on his house boat has got to be a dream come true for almost any child. When that boat can sail on the Sea of Time, as it does in the Drift House books, there as sure to be interesting developments. In the second volume of this series, The Lost Cities, Susan and Charles Oakenfeld once again learn the thrills and dangers of spending time on a seagoing mansion that not only has some peculiar features but seems to attract the unusual.
Although Susan and Charles had an exciting time with their Uncle Farley and the sharp-tongued parrot President Wilson last summer, they know it will not be the same this year. For one thing, their brother Murray will not be along: he has the chicken pox. For another, the pair are not getting along very well, fighting most often over a strange book called The Lost Cities which was left for them by the mysterious Mario, an older version of Murray who can travel through time. Another change is that Mr. Zenubian, one of the invisible caretakers of the Drift House now is willing to be seen. A cranky and suspicious character, the children almost wish he would remain out of sight, especially after he shows great interest in their special book. The tome turns out to be a source of curious power, for when Susan, Charles and their Uncle look at the amazing pictures of Pompeii, Troy and even the Twin Towers of New York, Charles suddenly disappears.
The story now divides between the separate adventures of the children. Charles and President Wilson find themselves on the shore of the Bay of Eternity, but sometime in the past. While Charles does not have the advantages of the magic in Drift House, he does have The Lost Cities book, which continues to show its powers, such as in teaching Charles how to survive in a wilderness. He needs all the help he can get, especially after he is taken captive by some Wendat Indians and learns it is about the time French and Indian Wars. Because Charles speaks English, who are enemies of the Wendat, he has to prove his innocence to the Indians or become one of their slaves. Meanwhile, Susan and Uncle Farley set out for fifteenth century Greenland to reach the center of a time squall. With the help of Mario and Iacob, a young Greenlander, they try to retrieve a golden amulet that could be the key to why cities like Atlantis and the Tower of Babel disappeared. Of most concern to Susan that if they don’t succeed, New York could become a lost city.
Peck has drawn on history and combined it with the fantastic to create a thrilling story. Fast paced and full of intrigue, he also includes both humor and tragedy as he explores not only the reason for the lost cities but also the continuing mystery surrounding Murray Oakenfeld and his travels in time. It is worth your while to track down the first Drift House book, which will explain some of the plot points in this latest work. Then climb back on the boat and join Charles, Susan, and the various versions of Murray on another adventure in time through The Lost Cities.