Pleiades Rising
by Christine Candland

"My backpack is lighter now that I'm not carrying Yacate's bones but I miss having him with me. What is Yacate's story?"

Seventeen-year-old Maggie Marland meets Will Brighton when she is freeing her pet deer. The two quickly discover a shared love of archaeology, and while exploring a cave near Will's home, they find a gold coin, or Castellano. Maggie embarks on an investigation of the coin's history, with and without the fickle Will, whose interest in the coin and Maggie is not as great as her fascination with both the Castellano and Will.

After an early, dangerous encounter with crooked archaeologists and antiquities dealers, Maggie's dream about Yacate leads her to his skeleton—and her determination to repatriate his bones. Her parents conveniently on a cruise, Maggie and Will set off for Mexico, with her teenaged brother as their unlikely chaperone. Encounters with evil spirits, hallucinogens, and the spooky Jade follow them through Mexico, but they emerge with a greater understanding of their chosen field of study, and perhaps each other.

Despite her privileged life in a Malibu beach house, Maggie is an appealing heroine, whose feelings of not belonging due to her intellectual pursuits and her near-obsessive interest in Will make her relatable to young women readers. If Will too greatly resembles the brooding, moody Heathcliff, Maggie either is unaware or embraces the similarity. A mixture of mystery and romance with a healthy dose of paranormal, Pleiades Rising is an engrossing story, incorporating aspects of Aztec history and astronomy without bogging down the reader with too many dry facts. Genuine suspense alternates with near-frantic action, but Candland's surprising plot twist will stun even jaded readers.

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