Friday, December 11, 2015

Review: The Headmaster's Cave by D.S. Allen

The Headmaster's Cave (The Adventures of George and Flanagan, Book #1) 
by D.S. Allen 
172 pages
 For ages 8 to 12

No one goes into The Headmaster’s Cave. George Stewart is no hero, but when his friend disappears, he must confront his fears to rescue Dougie and to finally uncover the mystery of The Headmaster’s Cave. The 120th anniversary of the disappearance of seven children and their Headmaster in a local cave known as The Headmaster’s Cave is approaching. The knowledge that one of George’s ancestors disappeared with the other children has haunted him and his family for generations. When George and Dougie receive an unexpected email stating that the mystery has finally been solved, Dougie and Katie try to persuade George to journey with them. But not even the enticement of uncovering the mystery can tempt George to follow the word of a stranger to the dangerous and ‘haunted’ cave. Only when Dougie goes missing, will George and his friend Katie, accompanied with his dog, Flanagan, journey to rescue his friend. On their way, they must not only battle their fears, but must also overcome nature’s obstacles, Old Maggie and her dog pack, and the local bullies. But that’s nothing compared to the terror that awaits them in The Headmaster’s Cave, when the mystery is finally revealed.

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I'm a little torn over this book. The surmise, a boy finding the courage to step beyond his fears to rescue a friend, is quite good. And the mystery surrounding an old cave and creepy legend is even better. There's tension in this book, mystery and several scenes which keep the reader on the edge of their seat to see what happens next, but then, there are other moments which weren't quite as interesting.

It took me a bit to get into this story. There's a lot of backstory that is covered to explain the legend and George himself. Some of this seems almost necessary since the legend around the cave goes back 120 years and still holds anchor in the town's life. It's also made clear how much George has suffered thanks to his ancestor's involvement and how this effects him. So although the author does a tremendous job at laying the ground work and building the perfect background for George and the story, it simply took too long, especially for the intended age group.

When the story does finally get going, it hooks and I couldn't put it down. Kids will enjoy following George and his friends as they face the dangers and obstacles in solving the mystery around the cave. And it isn't an easy mystery to solve either. It will have kids dreaming of someday having the possibility to go on such an adventure themselves. Plus, there's a wonderful message of friendship and trust built in, which rounds the entire story off nicely.

The writing is perfect for the intended age group and comes over authentic. I did have some trouble connecting to George, but the rest of the characters pulled along well and were easy to sympathize with. I could help but hoping they'd all get through everything okay. 

I did have a little trouble with the cave legend and it's continuing effect on town life. Although the thought of so a cave mystery holding on so long is simply cool, the way people still 'shame' themselves for their ancestor's behavior and how clear the legend is still held in daily life by the townspeople isn't understandable. 

Still, it's a nice adventure kids can delve into and will enjoy the surprises and unexpected twists and turns. Due to some grimmer parts, I wouldn't recommend this to anyone below the age of ten, but older ones will be able to relate to the characters and enjoy the foggy mystery surrounding the cave.


"The Headmaster's Cave is a fun and exciting read by an author who's obviously not forgotten what it's like to be young. The Headmaster's Cave is most highly recommended." ~ Readers' Favorite, 5 Stars

"...In the end the truth about The Headmaster's Cave and the events surrounding it will come as a surprise - but not until chapters of thrilling adventures, self-examination, and challenging encounters spice a read designed to draw in even the more reluctant reader, providing a vivid story that explains some events but leaves the door open for further adventures." ~ D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review

"Kept me on my toes and found myself not wanting to put it down, even fell asleep reading just to find a good stopping point. Great read and would defiantly recommend to those young readers interested in adventures and mysteries." ~ Marcus W., Amazon

And here he is. . .



Born in County Antrim, N. Ireland. I grew up and lived for many years in the beautiful town of Whitehead. It lies nestled on the east coast overlooking Belfast Lough. On a clear day it is possible to see the sunny shores of Scotland. I am currently a teacher and a writer. My profession has taken me to Scotland and Oman. I am currently living in Germany.

Website * Amazon Author Page

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