Title: The Obsidian Pebble
Author: Rhys A. Jones
Publisher: Spencer Hill Press
Pages: Paperback; 240
Release Date: October 29, 2013
Content Screening: Nothing of note
HDB Rating: 3 Keys to My Heart
Recommended to: Readers who enjoy fast paced mysteries, with fun and intelligent characters.
Add it on: Goodreads / Amazon / B&N
11-year old Oz Chambers lives in a haunted house (Penwurt). His mother wants to move, but Oz would rather do double algebra (yuck) every day for twelve months than leave. Where others see spooky, Oz sees wonder and mystery and aching reminders of his deceased dad. When he and his friends hear ghostly footsteps in the boarded-up dorm at Halloween, it leads to an exploration of the old place's eerie reputation. In his Dad's locked study, Oz finds a parcel addressed to him and posted the day before his father died. Inside is the obsidian pebble, the link to all of Penwurt's astonishing secrets. Suddenly Oz begins to change; he goes from maths dunce to A student overnight and has to deal with suspicious teachers and jealous pupils. But the footsteps in the locked rooms don't go away and slowly, Oz begins to knit together the strands of lies and mystery that tie the obsidian pebble, his father and him together. What Oz hasn't bargained for is that he's not alone in that search for understanding and that solving Penwurt's puzzles lead to other, much darker secrets that will test his loyalty and his bravery to the limit.
I'm still torn on whether this story is aimed at an MG, or a YA audience. It's true that The Obsidian Pebble features an 11-year old protagonist. However these characters don't act, think, or even talk like most 11-year-olds that I know. On the one hand, I loved that. I adore when authors don't think they need to talk down to their audience. On the other hand, this may be a difficult read for younger readers to get into at first. Just something to think about before you put it in your reader's hands.
Yes, The Obsidian Pebble does take a little while to get up and moving. It makes sense though. Rhys A. Jones uses the first few chapters to introduce the reader to Oz's town, his amazing home, and give the reader some back story on how he came to live there. I was enchanted by the idea of Penwurt. This massive home, big enough to house boarders even, came to life in my mind. What better place to have an adventure? What better place to uncover a dark mystery? Penwurt became a character in its own right, and I ate it up.
Oz and his friends were also great characters. They were funny, bantered like best friends should, and were extremely smart. I couldn't get over how quickly they managed to sort out any problems that came their way. My only gripe is that I didn't get to know them as much as I would have liked. The author does a great job of quickly introducing each one, and showing how they work as team. I just wasn't as invested in them as I thought I should be. In the story, yes. In them, not so much. The mystery really pulls the story forward.
I honestly ended up enjoying The Obsidian Pebble in the end. It did take me a little while to become immersed in the story, but once things picked up in the mystery department I was hooked. Again I say, just keep reading on. The story does pick up! By the ending, I was ready for more. I think this would be a great read to share between a parent and a child.
FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.