cover image Cries from the Lost Island

Cries from the Lost Island

Kathleen O’Neal Gear. DAW, $26 (320p) ISBN 978-0-7564-1578-5

O’Neal Gear (Maze Master) delivers an entertaining central mystery, but plays fast and loose with the supernatural in this romantic coming-of-age fantasy. In a slightly confusing alternate present where teenage witches and Satanists practicing the occult are commonplace, but other occult entities are deemed fanciful, 16-year-old Hal Stevens, three-time Colorado state ancient history champ, falls in love with Cleo Mallawi, who believes herself to be a reincarnated Cleopatra. When Cleo is murdered, Hal and best friend Roberto (the “Biker Witch”) join an archaeological expedition to Egypt led by Cleo’s shady uncle, where they hope to track down the graves of Marc Antony and Cleopatra to recover a sacred dagger that they hope will free Cleo’s soul from being forced to reincarnate yet again. O’Neal Gear brings a historian’s flair for details to the dig site and manages to keep her present-day story from becoming overshadowed by ancient Egyptian myth with convincingly flawed young protagonists and numerous red herrings surrounding Cleo’s murder. This fun story will hold more appeal for YA readers than adult fantasy fans. Agent: Matt Bialer, Sanford J. Greenburger Associates. (Mar.)