The second book in the Arthur and Marya Mystery series, THE WITCH OF THE SPRING finds the two 14-year-old heroes on the hunt for a stolen book — the diary of a 16th century Spanish priest.
Arthur’s friend Marya returns to Coronado Springs, and soon enough they find themselves plunged into another mystery. The diary they found at Skeleton Rock the previous summer has been stolen from the vault of the town bank and its owner, Don Pedro, and the Texas Ranger called in to investigate the crime ask for help from the intrepid teens who discovered the book in the first place. To find it, Arthur and Marya must determine who would want to take it and why. The mystery is deepened by the inclusion of the perspective of a woman following the teens around town, accompanied by a mysterious creature.
The novel begins with a scene from the fall of Tenochtitlan, and Aztec history and myth is seamlessly interwoven through the plot as an integral part of the mystery. Author Tom Blanton also excels at writing charming and believable characters, particularly the teens. Arthur, Marya, and their band of friends are smart and wholesome, but still mischievous enough to be fun and relatable for young readers. The mystery is well-plotted; younger readers will have no trouble following the clues and will likely be keen to keep reading to find out what happens next. The missing book is just a portal into a dynamic world of ancient people and their gods and goddesses, magic, and the titular Witch of the Spring.
Blanton states in the introduction that this novel is intended to be a standalone, and for the most part that holds true, as a great deal of background information from the first book, THE MESSAGE IN THE PAINTED ROCK, is included as a refresher. Nevertheless, based on the fact that this novel is a continuation of the story from the first, readers would be best served going through them in order.
THE WITCH OF THE SPRING is a fun adventure for middle-grade readers who enjoy solving mysteries. It features a hint of the paranormal without being too frightening and also provides some educational background on the Aztec civilization.
~Lisa Butts for IndieReader