Mar 4, 2017
Title: Kitty Hawk and The Curse of the Yukon Gold
Author: Iain Reading
Publisher: Createspace Independent Publishing Platform
Publication Date: November 30, 2012
Overall: 4 out of 5 stars
Source: I received this book free of charge from the author in exchange for an honest review.
Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold is the thrilling first installment in a new series of adventure mystery stories that are one part travel, one part history and five parts adventure. This first book of the Kitty Hawk Flying Detective Agency Series introduces Kitty Hawk, an intrepid teenage pilot with her own De Havilland Beaver seaplane and a nose for mystery and intrigue. A cross between Amelia Earhart, Nancy Drew and Pippi Longstocking, Kitty is a quirky young heroine with boundless curiosity and a knack for getting herself into all kinds of precarious situations.
After leaving her home in the western Canadian fishing village of Tofino to spend the summer in Alaska studying humpback whales Kitty finds herself caught up in an unforgettable adventure involving stolen gold, devious criminals, ghostly shipwrecks, and bone-chilling curses. Kitty’s adventure begins with the lingering mystery of a sunken ship called the Clara Nevada and as the plot continues to unfold this spirited story will have armchair explorers and amateur detectives alike anxiously following every twist and turn as they are swept along through the history of the Klondike Gold Rush to a suspenseful final climatic chase across the rugged terrain of Canada’s Yukon, the harsh land made famous in the stories and poems of such writers as Jack London, Robert Service and Pierre Berton. It is a riveting tale that brings to glorious life the landscape and history of Alaska’s inside passage and Canada’s Yukon, as Kitty is caught up in an epic mystery set against the backdrop of the scenery of the Klondike Gold Rush.
Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold is a perfect book to fire the imagination of readers of all ages. Filled with fascinating and highly Google-able locations and history this book will inspire anyone to learn and experience more for themselves as Kitty prepares for her next adventure – flying around the world!
As a reader who definitely (and unashamedly) judges a book by its cover, I was admittedly hesitant to start reading this book, as it appears to be for a middle-school level of audience. The back cover gives the typical run-down about what the reader can expect from the story, and describes the main character, Kitty Hawk, as a “cross between Amelia Earhart, Nancy Drew, and Pippi Longstocking”. Oh, Mr. Reading, you sure reeled me in at Pippi Longstocking! After reading the book, I can, in fact, confirm that this book would be great for the “tween” group… as well as any other age cohort of readers. The author’s word choice throughout the novel is perfect for the reading level of most pre-teens, but it doesn’t come across as targeting an immature audience so it’s a great read for adults as well.
Readers who enjoy historical fiction, strong female characters, characters who act like real people might, and/or exciting and suspenseful plot twists, will especially enjoy The Curse of the Yukon Gold. Kitty’s exploration and continuous interest in acquiring knowledge about her surroundings and the history that built them marks her as an intelligent, driven, resourceful, and brave young woman – the epitome of a character who might encourage a healthy amount of admiration and inspiration for young women in an impressionable stage of their lives. My hope is that pre-teens and teenagers read this book and come to their own realization as to their individual capability and strengths, and feel inspired to pursue their own adventures.
For adult readers, Kitty can sometimes come across as (okay, outright is) a dopey teenager, something we’ve all experienced for ourselves as we grew up, but didn’t notice until we were older and had some perspective. She makes dumb choices; she thinks illogically; she puts herself into dangerous situations that could probably be avoided if only she had a fully-formed pre-frontal cortex. Alas for Kitty (but hooray! for the readers’ interest), we benefit from her daring and innocence as we follow her adventures in the Yukon. Expect to learn some interesting facts about the Yukon gold rush and the people who uprooted their lives to risk everything for the small chance that they might hit it big. I’m always a fan of a fiction book that uses accurate historical information and expands my own knowledge. Mr. Reading even thoughtfully includes references for additional information at the back of his book, so that interested parties may easily acquire even more knowledge.
Some notes about specific aspects of the book: The author doesn’t set Kitty up as a dumb kid who just stumbled into something out of the ordinary. The readers are privy to Kitty’s thought process as she makes decisions throughout the book. We get to see that Kitty wasn’t rushing in trying to be a hero, or just doing what she was told to do by some older, wiser character; we get a glimpse into the self-consciousness that plagues teenagers, especially females, as they struggle to be taken seriously by adults. I was somewhat surprised by the very sparse occurrences of romantic intrigue, as this is, after all, a book about a young woman. It seems so many books featuring a young female lead force characters into googly-eyed observations, if not full-blown pursuit of what could only be the perfect guy for them. Kitty has got her priorities pretty well defined, and manages to be a great example to younger readers about patience and self-reliance. I appreciated reading a book focused on the mystery and excitement, rather than the stereotypical “well there’s gotta be a love connection” type of book.
Briefly, the few criticisms that I have as are follows: The chapters are really short. Like, almost absurdly short. I’m not sure why chapters would only last a few pages each, but I assume the author must have had a reason and I just haven’t been able to think of it yet. It confused me, as well, because the pages are so dense with text that a quick thumb-through when I first received the book left me with both an expectation for equally dense description and frequent run-on sentences, as well as a strange aversion to even beginning to dig into a book with pages so full of text. I really don’t even know what about the typeface is so off-putting to me. The paragraphs are actually rather short, there isn’t a run-on sentence to be found, and the dialogue is realistic. The content of the text itself isn’t overwhelming at all. It’s bizarre, I know.
Outside of that, there are some poorly worded/punctuated occasions in the book that leave the reader confused about who is talking. I would have liked a little bit more detail about the brothers, to establish them as real characters instead of what sometimes felt like background dancers or extras that aren’t really necessary to the plot but somehow make the story better because there are more characters in play. However, with how long the book already is, I can see why the author didn’t spend the words/pages to flesh out some relatively unimportant characters. If it was a tradeoff to sacrifice page space dedicated to fleshing out almost transparent characters for page space dedicated to more detail about the gold rush history, I’d have to say that Mr. Reading has my vote for the historical information. Lastly, and this is entirely personal opinion, the whole opinionated-voice-in-the-head conversations that Kitty has with herself throughout the book are weird. Having an inner dialogue or struggle within yourself to process through emotions or thought processes seems (to me) entirely normal. However, the way the disagreements were punctuated (one with quotation marks, as though speaking out loud, and one in italics) came off more as multiple personalities than a normal struggle to process through a situation. Granted, it’s been said that more intelligent people tend to talk to themselves, and as I mentioned, Kitty is one smart cookie. I guess my complaint is more about the punctuation and italics just making the whole inner (and outer?) conversation thing a bit awkward.
In sum, Kitty Hawk and The Curse of the Yukon Gold is a book that I found appropriate and enjoyable for all ages. If you’re looking for a clean adventure story with uplifting and motivating themes woven throughout, this is the book for you. As I understand it, Mr. Reading already has other books in the series. If they are anything like this one, I’d have to say that a bundle of books from the Kitty Hawk Flying Detective Agency series sounds like a great gift idea. Already, I look forward to passing this book on to my youngest sister, who is fifteen (two years shy of 17-year-old Kitty Hawk), and hope to acquire a review from her once she’s done reading.
If you’ve made it all of the way through my long-winded review, thank you for sticking with me! I’d like to add a final note that Mr. Reading took the time to respond with kindness to my “sorry I’m super behind at reading and reviewing your book” email, which convinces me further that Mr. Reading is a thoughtful man who respects and appreciates other humans and their struggles. His ability to bring a strong female character like Kitty Hawk to life is a great boon to our current generation of young women who are growing up with such unrealistic expectations placed on them by the media and their peers. This is a series that will hopefully reach and inspire many young women to conceive of, pursue, and achieve their dreams.