cover image The Ancient One

The Ancient One

T. A. Barron. Philomel Books, $20.99 (384pp) ISBN 978-0-399-21899-6

When an untouched forest of ancient redwoods is discovered on Native American holy grounds in the Oregon wilderness, a band of unemployed loggers sees only an opportunity to earn a living, not thinking of either the ecological or the spiritual consequences of felling the trees. Anxious to preserve the wilderness, Kate (the heroine of Barron's debut novel, Heartlight ) and her great-aunt Melanie set off to stop the loggers. Once in the forest, Kate is catapulted 500 years into the past, where she is caught in a fatal struggle over the very same wilderness. Kate's quest--to help the forces of light and love prevail over Gashra, the Wicked One, and his forces of greed and death--resonates through time, influencing events set in the past as well as those set in the present. This fantasy adventure offers well-realized characters, imaginative situations, high-minded theme and purpose, complex emotion, a smattering of really good fight scenes and a healthy dose of slapstick humor. Working with elements inspired by American Indian lore, the Lost World stories by Edgar Rice Burroughs and A. Merrit, and the works of C. S. Lewis and Madeleine L'Engle, Barron has woven a boldly original novel that is as thought-provoking as it is fun to read. Ages 12-up. (Sept.)