Sean McCartney’s adventure book is the first in a series about a group of young teenagers who want to travel the world in search of exotic treasures and artifacts. They call themselves The Treasure Hunters, and this first adventure is The Secret of the Magical Medallion. The series will seek to combine elements of the Hardy Boys and Indiana Jones. I think it also has similarities to the Three Detectives – Jupiter Jones, Pete Crenshaw, and Bob Andrews — and also D J McHale’s Pendragon series. And throw Scooby-Doo in for good measure.
This first adventure is a mediocre story about a medallion that was lost hundreds of years ago. It was one of two medallions used by some briefly referenced factions, one good, one evil to control the magic of light and dark. These medallions could never be joined. If they were put together, the person who did it would have access to way too much power. So a gypsy from the followers of light stole one from the dark side and tossed it in the ocean. Along comes Diamond Jack Reed, a vague resemblance of Dr. Jones, a treasure hunter with a ship and a crew — and the uncle of Tommy Reed, founder of the Treasure Hunters Club. He’s been set on the trail of this medallion. And, of course, his nephew and friends are destined to get wrapped up in the adventure.
The ensuing adventure has a very familiar feel, but that didn’t necessarily distract from the book. McCartney provided the story with a decent pace. The short chapters did not provide many details, it was like an anorexic Dan Brown book. However, the interaction between the four teens felt real. The other characters — Uncle Jack, his assistant Elizabeth, the bad guy, Manuel and his thugs, the parents — felt more like cariacatures, but kids were solid. The dialogue between them was actually funny at times and has the right amount of teenage sarcasm and uncertainty. Tommy has a bad home life, angry dad, weepy mom. It actually brought some authenticity to the story. There’s even a school bully to deal with.
McCartney is a teacher, and it seems some of the motivation behind writing this book was to provide a series of adventures for other teachers to use in their classrooms. He provides study guides and lesson plans for the book at his website. Admittedly, that’s pretty cool. Here’s my only issue there: if this is designed to help children get into reading, develop language skills and such, it would be nicer if there were less grammatical errors (paragraphs running together on the same lines, missing quotation marks, that sort of thing) and a little more substance. It’s a good idea to send this Club on treasure hunts and weave real history and events into the story. I just think a little more depth might intrigue kids even more.
Still, the book reads fast; it has the potential to keep kids interested; and since it’s the first in a series there’s time for the characters and the writing to grow.