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Friday, December 17, 2010
Montooth and the Canfield Witch - Robert Jay
Released August 2009
Reviewed by Tracy Farnsworth
Montooth and the Canfield Witch offers a glimpse into life during the 1950s. The heroine of the story, Carty Andersson, discovers a mystery in the Florida swamps near her home and decides to do a little investigating.
While walking home from her aunt's house, she passes the home of Sally Canfield, last of the Canfield family accused of witchcraft is Salem, Massachussetts. There she spies two shady men discussing if the witch lived alone. Carty's not sure what they're up to, but she's determined to find out.
A school project gives her the perfect opportunity. In her botany class, the students are asked to team up, take a list of Latin plant names and spend the weekend finding samples of as many of the plants as possible. The more you find, the higher your grade. With her friends, known as The Crew, in her group, the teens set out to find the plants and see what the shady guys are up to.
This is the main plot of the book. Yet, this is really only the beginning. There are other intervening plots, including that of a dangerous man known as Cruz Cruz or the "Cuban," who joins the shady guys in their attempt to steal a possession from the witch.
There's also the story of Montooth, a huge alligator living in the lake near the Canfield home. Montooth's story is told as a book within a book. A different font and print size makes it clear when Montooth's story is being told.
I enjoyed Carty's story. The characters were engaging, the pacing kept me intrigued with the story and I wanted to see how Carty would get out of certain predicaments. The other sub-plots played an integral role in Carty's story, yet I found they distracted me. When I reached those story lines, particularly the background of the Cuban, I found I really just wanted to get back to Carty.
Parents with younger children should note that the story does contain some violence and use of alcohol. While I think teens should be exposed to that side of life, I do realize some parents prefer to limit their child's exposure to it.