Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Repeating History: Book Four
In their further efforts to recover the historical artifacts lost when they set fire to Merlin’s office, Ash and Grant go back to the early 1930s, where they must infiltrate Alcatraz Prison and secure a locket belonging to Al Capone. They find themselves at odds when Ash plays the role of a prisoner, while Grant is a guard. Capone takes a liking to Ash, whom he sees as a younger version of himself, and places Ash under his protection.
Before they can return to their own time, the boys must help foil an escape from the Rock, expose a corrupt and dangerous guard, and secure the pendant.
Dakota Chase continues the incredible YA fantasy series with a jump back into time to the infamous prison island of Alcatraz in San Francisco Bay. A series that started because two boys with at odds social backgrounds were both in juvenile criminal court with three strikes against them, which most likely meant prison with the judge presiding over their cases. But instead, in an strange, perhaps even mystical toss of the coin, both Ash and Grant were sent to the Stanford School for Boys . To learn to “straighten up ” their act so to speak. Instead by accident , when arguing with each other, they set fire to their history teacher’s office and destroyed it and all his collection of relics. He wasn’t pleased considering it had taken him centuries and more to collect all those mystical artifacts and that he turns out to be none other than the Merlin!
Now both Ash and Grant are tasked with going back through time and finding, collecting, and bringing back each and every one of the relics lost in the fire or suffer the consequences.
And if they happen to learn something about history, humanity, and even themselves, growing a bit in the process….well. who is to say if Merlin had that planned all along. It certainly hasn’t occurred to either of them yet.
Of the two boys, Ash is still the most angry, tilting at windmills, feeling put upon by fate and Merlin. He has so much growing and maturing to do. We still need to find more of where all this heat, and angre is pouring out from. Grant with his upper class upbringing has also made many adjustments, both to Ash, his attraction to Ash (both are gay), his situation at the school, and the situation that got him there. Think more hacker, less anger. Still neither boy, and they are typical teenagers in so many ways (thoughts, dialog, and actions) have yet to understand the full consequences of their actions. Here it will start to come home.
Dakota Chase’ research, no matter what the subject, and its incorporation into the storyline, has been flawless over the series to date. That continues here with Alcatraz. From the stomach churning boat journey across the Bay, the meeting by the guards, the motions through the gates into prison hell, you actually feel like you are walking into Alcatraz as it must have existed during the days of Al Capone’s “stay”. The details are chilling, vivid, and, cuts to the bone of the matter of what it was like to be a prisoner or lifer in Alcatraz. That includes men there solely because they loved other men. What is shocking is that the prison wasn’t closed until 1963. I have seen those cells personally. You can’t believe any human beings were ever put into cells like those. And the author has used great discretion here in the day by day existence of these men. This is a YA novel afterall. No sex and graphic violence, still real and alive.
Part of the joy of these stories is the discovery with Ash and Grant of the roles they are meant to play in finding said relic, how they need to retrieve it, and then get back to their time period. So I won’t go into that here. Again the characterizations are superb, the writing tight, and the storytelling moves swiftly from start to finish.
No, here my only complaint (small one that it is) is the length of the quest and the swiftness with which they completed it. I think that’s probably due to the location, who their “companions” were there, the seriousness of the boys situations, and , frankly, the need for the author to pull them out of there before realistically something would happen to them. They had to get in and then get out. Unlike the other stories where both Ash and Grant became parts of a “community”, where we almost fell in love with some of the people in the past, here we are dealing with seriously criminal elements, including Al Capone who even at his most benevolent is still a murderer. So it was much harder to feel engaged for the population there unlike all the other stories where there was an enormous pull on your emotions and you wanted to know what happened to them after the boys returned.
For Ash and Grant, whether they fully acknowledged it or not, this story was them seeing what could have happened to them had they not been sent to the school. They both might have ended up in prison. For Ash this trip was a revelation about how poor judgement sometimes comes truly with a high cost.
Time and the next story will see how much this personal growth will be carried forward by both of them. I can hardly wait.
Cover Artist: Tiferet Design. I am so in love with these covers. They have both a retro feel that wouldn’t be out of place in a Hardy Boy adventure and yet still seems so fresh. It’s as great as the story! Kudos!
Kindle Edition, 1st Edition , 180 pages
Expected publication: May 14th 2019 by Harmony Ink Press
Edition Language English
Series Repeating History #4