Games of Capture the Flag played in the vog (volcanic smog). A library full of ancient books, grimoires, and artifacts. A cruise ship with wonderful Jello parfaits. Yes, this all fits together in this second book featuring Max-Ernest's younger brother, Clay and his fellow Earth Camp residents. The kids are still at the secret camp for young magic users on Price Island. When Clay finds a boy washed up on the beach, he helps him to shelter and agrees to keep the boy's presence a secret. The castaway is named Brett and has fallen off a passing cruise ship, which now anchors just off the island and sends in search parties. But are they looking for Brett, or something else?
There are plenty of secrets besides the camp itself. Where is junior counselor Flint always sneaking off to, and why? What are the sisters Leira and Mira always arguing over - do they really both have a crush on Clay as his cabin mates believe? And who made the cave drawings that they find? Are they pictures of dinosaurs or dragons? The camp humor of using a stinky sock as the team's flag for the game, playing tricks on people during meals, and kids rolling their eyes at the adults, are just a part of early teen life. But the added ingredient of magic moves the story into the fantasy genre, with kids who can see the future, start fires, talk to animals, and other abilities. And then we mix in the bad guys with the SWAT gear and explosives, the rich guy under the sway of his evil but beautiful girlfriend, and the desperate rescue mission that the campers launch. There's something for everyone - magic, humor, action, suspense, and the return of familiar characters.
Great for middle grade readers who enjoy fantasy. I read an e-book provided by the publisher through NetGalley.