Monday, June 16, 2014

The Expeditioners and the Secret of King Triton's Lair

Taylor, S.S. The Expeditioners and the Secret of King Triton's Lair. illus. by Katherine Roy. McSweeney's McMullens. 23 Sept. 2014. p. 384.

When we last saw the three West siblings--Kit, M.K., and Zander--they had had quite an adventure: discovering a treasure hinted at by a secret map given to them by their father; letting a bully of a young explorer take credit for finding the treasure; safely securing another secret map hidden at the cache; and gaining entry to the Explorers Academy. You'd think life might be somewhat calm after such an experience, but not so for the Wests. The stakes of success at the Academy are ever higher now that the threat of war looms for the United States and its Allied Nations, and Kit is struggling to crack the secret map he and his siblings discovered in Arizona. Some sleuthing leads him to discover that this map points him to a place called King Triton's Lair, but figuring out the location is only a small part of this new quest. You see, all ships trying to pass through King Triton's Lair have sunk. And if you try to avoid this treacherous stretch of sea, you'll still have to contend with the pirates.

It's been about a year and a half since I read Taylor's first installment in this Expeditioners series, and I found myself quickly pulled back into the reimagined modern world that she's created. It's full of interesting Newly Discovered Lands, strange and wonderful creatures, and a whole host of places and animals to discover--a perfect setting for any explorer. The feelings of a surveillance state and the warmongering in the government have only grown, with some of the Wests' immigrant classmates detained for questioning after an assassination attempt on a high government official. The mood created by this backdrop for the main story makes this second novel in the series equal parts adventure and menace--in other words, a story that will pull you in just like the mysterious forces acting in King Triton's Lair. I also particularly appreciate the character development in this sequel, especially with regard to Kit; Taylor could easily have just relied on the characterizations she created in the first novel, but she really allows her characters to mature in their relationships and their perspectives. A lot more is happening in their world and quest than the Wests ever knew--and it's a treat to ride along with them.

I have a handful of readers who absolutely loved the first novel, The Expeditioners and the Treasure of Drowned Man's Canyon, and I cannot wait to hand them this second installment. I think there's high demand right now for great adventure and exploration titles like this, especially considering the popularity of such series as the Superstition Mountain books, which are great readalikes for this title. The Expeditioners is an excellent steampunk adventure series with tons of heart and appeal.

Review copy provided by the publisher.

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