A mother that disappeared without a trace, a sudden tragic death and then being forcibly uprooted from your home. That is what Zach, a thirteen year old boy endures when a ghostly girl kills his father. Being strong willed, Zach is determined not to leave his home in New Orleans until supernatural events occur that convince him to move in with his great aunt who lives on the grounds of a haunted plantation. It is there that Zach encounters a Cajun boy that never grows old and a creature that changes his life forever. Parallel worlds of wicked reptiles, animals, ghouls, angels and zombies form a supernatural mix that thrust Zach in the forefront of a battle between good and evil.
Pic and description taken from Goodreads.com
*I was given this book in exchange for an honest review.
This is a unique and fantastical middle reader story. The book begins tragically with Zach’s father dying on his 13th birthday, when a strange girl pushes him in to the path of a trolley and then disappears. Immediately strange things start to happen to Zach, like seeing ghosts and hearing voices telling him he needs to go and live with his strange aunt out in the country. Zach is sure that life in the Louisiana countryside is going to be so boring but he soon finds out how wrong he is.
One day Zach goes in search of hidden pirate treasure in the swamp and finds Kikaju instead. He is a nutria, not a rat like everyone seems to think, and the prince of a hidden world. An evil crocodile has stolen a magic stone from Kikaju’s father and imprisoned him. Now it is up to Kikaju to find a way to get it back and fix all the horrible things that the crocodile has done to the land. With the help of Zach and a whole cast of crazy characters Kikaju sets out to save his world. During his adventure you meet some ghosts, a whole slew of talking animals and one crazy, scary cat lady, just to name a few of the strange people in the story. Throw in a lot of magic and some good old voodoo and you have a great story that kids will love.
While the book is fun for kids I do have to say that I was not as draw in to the book as an adult as I have been with other children's stories. There are a lot of times that the story seems to jump around a bit too much and I kept wishing for a little more depth to the story. I just kept feeling that if the author had taken the time to add just a little more detail to things such as the characters stories or to explain more about the world that Kekaju came from it would have made the story so much better. I also had a hard time with the language in the book. I am assuming that it is supposed to represent a sort of Cajun/Bayou type dialect but since I have never been to Louisiana I can only guess that this is really how they talk there. I just made some of the dialog hard to follow for this Westerner. All that being said, most kids don't care about this sort of stuff and since that is who the book was written for, all that matters is that it is an excellent children's book.
Parents guide: If you have sensitive children you may want to preview the book first. The crocodile in the book chomps people in half and has their tongues ripped out, etc., and while it is not greatly descriptive it may still be a little intense for some kids.