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The Obsidian Mask and Secrets of the River Review by Cassandra Holdeman

Caroline Ludovici
(610) 941-9999
1094 New DeHaven Street, Suite 100
West Conshohocken, PA 19428-2713

Getting a teenage boy to read is not always an easy task. I have found if I present my teenage boy with books filled with adventures, history, and a little bit of mystery, he will read them. The Obsidian Mask and Secrets of the River by Caroline Ludovici that we recently received to review had all these elements.

Caroline Ludovici has taken her love of ancient history and archaeology and turned it into a book series for young adults. The Obsidian Mask and Secrets of the River are the first two books from this author who is on a mission to show that archaeology is real, fun, and exciting. She is currently working on two more books for this series. Each book has a historical story and a present-day story that it follows and weaves together. They are available to purchase for $16.95 each.

The Obsidian Mask introduces us to an ancient Mesopotamian warrior queen, Queen Sorrea. She is known for being fair and just, but also for being fierce. She is loyal and devoted to her city to the point of death. A beautiful and rare obsidian mask is created for the queen upon her death, and this is what connects the story to present day. It is the present day setting where we meet teenagers Natasha and Alex who are going to Medinabad to where their mother is working on an archaeological dig. We also meet two Italian teenagers, Lorenzo and Gabriella, who are there to visit their father who is in charge of the entire project. As we learn more about each of these families and how they will become one large family, there are strange things happening at the dig site. This leads to quite the adventure for the teens, and you have to read the book to find out what happens to them.

Secrets of the River is the second book in the adventures of Natasha, Alex, Lorenzo, and Gabriella. In this book, Natasha and Alex go to visit their mother at a new archaeological site in Italy where she is working for Lorenzo and Gabriella’s father. They are also in Italy for an engagement party for their parents. When Natasha and Alex arrive at Lorenzo and Gabriella’s house, they learn that their home has a rich history. Not only was the river in the backyard a part of Hannibal’s battles, but it was also an important escape route for the Nazi’s as they left Italy. As the teens learn more of the history of the river, they also learn more of the history of Lorenzo and Gabriella’s house. Once again, this leads to a major adventure for the teens, and you have to read the book to find out what happens to them.

My son and I read these two books. He started reading The Obsidian Mask and was telling me about it. I was intrigued so I decided to read the books too. We both liked how the stories opened up with the historical story so we knew the background for the story. This made us want to keep reading to find out how the modern-day story would tie to the historical one. We also liked all the details in the story lines because the detailed descriptions helped us picture what was taking place in each part of the story. The characters were real and easy to relate to. The end of book one left you wanting a book two to find out more about what happened to the modern-day characters and the same thing happened with book two as well. We look forward to seeing where Natasha, Alex, Lorenzo, Gabriella, and their parents will have their next adventure.

While the books are very well written and they do capture your attention, there were just a couple of things that bothered me as a parent about them. The first thing that bothered me about these books are the editing errors throughout each book. Sometimes it was a missing word, sometimes it was the wrong word, and there are several instances where the quotation marks for dialogue are not in the correct place. The second thing that bothered me was that in each book there was at least one use of curse words. In my opinion, the author could have used different phrases in each of the instances she used curse words and could have still gotten the point across that the character was trying to make. Even though there were these issues that bothered me, I still look forward to reading the next two books the author is working on in this series.

Overall, The Obsidian Mask and Secrets of the River are good books to read. They are fun, entertaining, and kept us flipping the pages. We liked the adventure-packed stories and would recommend them for a fun read.

-Product review by Cassandra Holdeman, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, September 2017