Tuesday, November 7, 2017

MG Speculative Fiction/Time Travel Review & Excerpt: Skavenger's Hunt by Mike Rich

33534896Skavenger's Hunt by Mike Rich
Publisher: Inkshares
Format:  E ARC

Number of Pages: 320
Publishing:  November 14th, 2014
SourceIn exchange for an honest review, a review copy was received from the publisher.
Find it:  AmazonB&NGoodreads, Inkshares

Henry's father, Nathan Babbitt has always said that one day they would go on an adventure together sailing or climbing the highest mountains, but after he's tragically killed in a car accident, their adventuring plans ended.  Since then, Henry's mother won't allow him to go outside, she's been cautious and overly protective, especially when it comes to his grandfather and all his wild stories.  Then one night on a visit to his grandparents on Christmas Eve, Henry hears the story of one of his grandfather's own adventures of trying to solve the greatest hunt of them all, the Skavenger Hunt.  His grandfather also shares the last clue he found, an antique ledger sheet.  Unable to sleep, Henry sneaks into his grandfather's study hoping to take a closer look, and while investigating mutters aloud a series of numbers that once added to the ledger transports him back to the year 1885, with the cryptic message:  
     
"To whomever has found this page from my
ledger: find me. There is a way back. Or
forward. But know this too-when the final
empty box of this sheet is full, so ends
your adventure. Whatever the date and
location, there you will stay. Forever.
Sincerely, Hunter S. Skavenger"


Henry must now follow the clues wherever they lead and risk each new mark on the ledger bringing him closer to being stuck in the past.  Will he be able to find Skavenger in time?  

Shortly after Henry arrives in 1885, and while trying to figure out what Skavenger's message means he stumbles upon three other explorers his age, all searching for the next clue in the puzzle.  Once they team up, things begin to get interesting as they make their way across New York visiting such landmarks as Central Park,  the Grand Central Depot, the Vanderbilt Mansion and The Telephone Exchange in Hell's Kitchen, New York.   I think the hunt is my favorite part of the story, reading about the places they visit and following along with their next clue.  Their travels even take them by Pennsylvania railroad and boat to destinations like Mississippi and Paris where they meet Mark Twain and Gustave Eiffel.  While closely behind Mr. Doubt and his Dark Men are following their every move.  Skavenger's  Hunt is a puzzle mystery, mixed with historical fiction, and adventure which I enjoyed very much.  There are many twists in Scavenger's Hunt, with one in particular that I'll admit I never saw coming, but the more that I reflect on the story it reminds me of the character of Arthur Slugworth from the 1971 movie Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  Although, Slugworth seemed more mysterious, like what was he promising those children?  He also seemed to be more of a test of Charlie's moral character, was he trustworthy and honest, would Charlie be worthy of taking over the Factory?  Whereas in Skavenger Hunt, the antagonist frightens Henry and gets in the way, more of an obstacle to overcome.  So that, when the twist is finally revealed, it's even more surprising.  While there is a resolution to the Hunt, the final twist does leave room for more stories to be written.  


Excerpt from
Chapter Eleven
Doubt and the Dark Men

            HIRAM DOUBT’S HANDS were gently folded over the crown of his walking
       stick—the first thing Henry saw as he nearly walked straight into him.
             “Looking for something?” Doubt inquired with a sparkling gleam in his 
       otherwise bleak gray eyes. The old New York Times photograph in Chief ’s 
       study had been frightening enough—and that was just an old, faded black-
       and-white image. Fuzzy on the edges.
             Here the man was all too crystal clear. The eyes that had somehow 
       managed to pierce through century-old newsprint now leveled icy daggers
       into Henry’s rapidly blinking ones.
             No! No, no, NO! Sorry, can’t . . .
       Henry started to back up as if to turn and run, but the idea was quickly squelched.
             “Try to move?” Doubt advised with a clipped voice, raising a slender pointed
       finger, “You won’t move for long. Call for your friends? It’ll be the last call you
       make.”
             Henry’s heart stopped as he glimpsed something moving in the shadows behind
       Doubt.
             The Dark Men!
             One by one, all four of them appeared, all wearing black top hats and long black
       coats that reached all the way to the ground. Henry decided the safest place to be, 
       ironically, was standing right where he was, in front of the man with the pale gray
       top hat and the bleak and dreary eyes.
             “Allow me to introduce myself,” the disconcerting man said. Without raising 
        a hand, but with a slight tilt of his head, he gloomily uttered, “Hiram Doubt.”
             “I know,” Henry replied, his voice cracking.
             Doubt’s lips curved into a wicked grin. “I’ll take only a moment of your time, ” he 
       said, “because at this moment, young man, you and your friends are impressively
       close to cracking Mr. Skavenger’s next clue. A clue which, yes, I have already solved.”
             Despite being more frightened than he could remember, Henry couldn’t help 
       but take in the thin gray scar running the path of a teardrop down Doubt’s left cheek. 
       The snaggled and wisping gray edge of each eyebrow was hard to miss too.  Everything
       about the slim man in the dark charcoal suit—his sixty or so years of age, his height of 
       six feet and maybe another inch, seven feet with the hat—felt gray and threatening,
       though oddly cultured as well.
             The sinister-looking man continued on, “While hundreds still aimlessly wander the                          grounds of the Dakota and others still climb the walls of the Grand Central Depot, the 
       four of you have displayed a deductive intelligence far, far beyond your years. 
       Worthy of commendation.”
             Doubt unfolded his malevolent hands and Henry saw that his cane was capped with a                    gold-plated head of a snarling wolf.
             “Now, listen to me carefully, young searcher,” Doubt’s voice dropped low. “If I see 
       you again—and I’m certain I will—it will be either because you have solved a clue I 
       have also solved, or because you have solved one I’ve yet to decipher.”
             He raised his cane and the wolf ’s golden teeth drew close to Henry’s nose. “And 
       when I ask you for the answer to that riddle? The one you have solved, and I haven’t?”                         Doubt let his words settle before finishing. “You. Will. Tell. Me.”


Praise for Skavenger's Hunt

"With Skavenger's Hunt, Mike Rich has adeptly tapped into the best of children's literature. His book takes us on a journey that both fascinates and surprises us and is filled with characters who are curious and generous and, at times, very funny. The world that Henry Babbitt discovers is every bit as mind-blowing as the world that Lucy Pevensie enters when she first walks through the wardrobe. I can't wait to read it again!" —Mark Johnson, producer of The Lion, Witch and the WardrobeBreaking Bad, and Rain Man

"A mix of magic and history that takes the reader on an utterly engrossing adventure! Skavenger's Hunt is an edge-of-your-seat gem that’ll keep you turning pages from start to finish. An impressive debut novel." —The Wibberleys, writers of National Treasure and National Treasure: Book of Secrets

"Mike Rich is, very simply, one of my favorite writers. Any time you sit down to read a script of his you know that you will laugh, think and be moved. He has the rare ability to create emotion without schmaltz." —John Lee Hancock, writer, and director of The Blind Side

"Mike Rich writes stories with so much heart they almost explode. There's the work you know, like Secretariat, but also work on countless films you love that don't bear his name. Skavenger's Hunt is no exception." —Brian Koppelman, writer of Ocean's 13 and creator of Showtime's Billions


                                    Author bio:

 Mike Rich is a screenwriter best known for films like The RookieRadio, and Secretariat. His first movie was Finding Forrester, starring Sean Connery, for which he won the Nicholl Fellowship. Rich currently resides in Portland, Oregon. Skavenger's Hunt is his first book.





1 comment:

  1. Sounds like an exciting read! Thanks for sharing.. :)
    ~Jess

    ReplyDelete