Tuesday, April 19, 2022

The Ancient Starship

The Ancient Starship
by Cerberus Jones
Recommended Ages: 10+

Amelia and Charlie are friends who live with their parents at a hotel that caters to visitors from outer space, thanks to a gateway in a cave beneath the caretaker's cottage. Nevertheless, when an alien ship is found buried beneath a 6,000-year-old Egyptian pyramid, they're the last kids in their schoolroom to find out. It's funny that this has to happen just when the hotel is welcoming its first human guests, arriving by car at the same time Amelia's dad and a group of holographically-disguised aliens from wormhole Control are teleporting to Egypt to scope out the archeological dig.

Things develop fast, with some of the human guests proving as strange as the aliens, an alien guest turning up looking completely human even before being fitted with a holo-emitter, a suspected infestation of ravenous alien spider babies breaking out, and one of the hotel's long-term guests revealing her secret lab to the children, which only raises more questions and concerns. There's a grouchy alien who threatens the future of the human management of the hotel, a daring theft of an archaeological treasure, and a romantic subplot that gives a strange new meaning to the phrase "star-crossed lovers."

I'm impressed by this book's smart dialogue and crisply delineated characters, the adventurous hero kids and their amazing alien dog, and a storyline spanning awesome spans of time and drawing in a variety of concepts that will blow kids' minds. Having found a used copy of it at a local bookstore, I regret not being able to read the series it belongs to in sequence, but I don't regret it much; my imagination seemed to do fine, filling in the background implying what I'd missed in the earlier installments. And anyway, I dialed up a used bookseller on my phone and ordered most of the books in the series as soon as I was done with this one.

This is the fourth book in "The Gateway" series by Cerberus Jones, the Australian two- or three-headed writing team of Chris Morphew, Rowan McAuley and (for the first six books of this series) David Harding. The other installments are The Four-Fingered Man, The Warriors of Brin-Hask, The Midnight Mercenary, The Time Shifter, The Dark Giants, The Lost Home World and The Lady from Nowhere. Morphew is the author of either three or six "Phoenix Files" books, depending on how they're packaged. McAuley is the author of several "Go Girl!" chapter books. I think David Harding is a teacher and author of the "Israel Folau" books and titles in the "RSPCA Animal Tales" and "Robert Irwin: Dinosaur Hunter" series.

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