CM . . .
. Volume XIX Number 7. . . .October 19, 2012
The Mask of Destiny. (The Archer Legacy, Book Three).
Toronto, ON: HarperCollins Canada, 2012.
371 pp., hardcover, $19.99.
Grades 5-8 / Ages 10-13.
Review by Kay Weisman.
Gerald was standing on the pedals, driving the bike towards the narrow set of stairs. He looked back to Ruby. She was pumping the pedals with everything she had. But the gendarmes were keeping up, even gaining on them. They were wearing rollerblades, and were sprinting like speed skaters at the Winter Olympics.
Gerald doubled his efforts, driving himself forward, straight at the stairway.
"Get ready to jump!" he yelled back to Ruby. Then he launched himself over the lip of the top step. The bike soared out into the void. Gerald lifted himself off the seat and braced for the impact of the landing. He seemed to float in the air for ages. Then his rear tyre clipped a step about two-thirds of the way down. The jolt rattled through the heavy frame and shook every bone in his body. The front wheel touched town and Gerald pulled back to stop himself flipping over the handlebars. A teeth-jarring second later and he was on the lower level. He shot through two parked cars that were squeezed onto the gutters on either side, like a bullet down a rifle barrel.
The Mask of Destiny, the stirring conclusion to "The Archer Legacy" trilogy, opens with Gerald and his friends Ruby and Sam, back in London for the trial of Gerald's archenemy, Sir Mason Green. But before Green can be convicted of his numerous crimes (see The Billionaire's Curse 2010 and The Emerald Casket 2011 for specifics), he dies on the witness stand, and Green's niece, Charlotte, frames Gerald for the murder she committed. In an attempt to elude the police and prove Gerald's innocence, the three chums set off for France hoping to complete their quest and unravel the mystery surrounding Gerald's family.
The action never flags as the kids, pursued by Charlotte and the police, wend their way from the Normandy Coast to the Vatican to Athens and finally Delphi. Established characters continue to evolve, especially Gerald and Ruby, whose friendship seems to be morphing into something more. Newsome weaves elements of the legend of the Delphic oracle into the story as a way of explaining the moments of E.S.P. that Gerald has experienced throughout the series. The climax is worth the wait, with the return of a presumed dead character, uncertainties about the twins' loyalties, and some satisfying answers to the series' most puzzling questions. Although The Mask of Destiny probably doesn't stand on its own, most readers won't mind starting this series from the beginning.
Kay Weisman recently completed her Master of Arts in Children's Literature from the University of British Columbia.
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