Review of Wreck at Ada’s Reef

Wreck at Ada’s Reef Wreck at Ada’s Reef [Swallowtail Legacy]
by Michael D. Beil
Intermediate    Pixel + Ink    320 pp.    g
2/22    978-1-64595-048-6    $17.99
e-book ed.  978-1-64595-102-5    $10.99

Lark Heron-Finch is back at her family’s house on Lake Erie’s Swallowtail Island for the first time since her mother’s death. With her younger sister, stepfather, and three stepbrothers also there, the limits of Lark’s temper are tested on a regular basis. She finds a purpose for the summer by becoming a research assistant to family friend Nadine, who is working on a book about the island’s history. Nadine introduces Lark to Dinah, a ninety-three-year-old woman who is one of the island’s oldest residents, and to the story of Nadine’s grandfather’s death, decades earlier, in a boat wreck that might not have been an accident after all. As Lark dives into investigating the mystery, her impulsiveness continues to present problems, but it also allows her to save the day. While some of the mystery’s twists may not be that surprising, the overall execution is a success. The evolution of Lark’s relationship with her stepfather and siblings is well done, giving the book’s fully realized secondary characters a chance to develop along with the protagonist. Even Lark’s soccer-field nemesis turns out to be more complex than the classic bully he’d seemed at first. The book concludes with revelations about another island-related mystery, leaving readers eager for the next installment.

From the May/June 2022 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Sarah Rettger
Sarah Rettger is an independent bookseller in Boston.

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