Have your ever placed the palm of your hand over a flashlight, or a fingertip over a penlight – or these days over the flashlight app on your phone – and been fascinated by the red light that shone through? It was a fun thing to do on camping trips or at scout camps or when hanging with friends when we were kids.
A couple of decades ago, one of my children was very seriously ill, and being prepared for emergency surgery. The nurse clipped a little thingy with a tiny light in it onto her finger, and a few seconds later a beep announced her blood oxygen level was tested and normal. I had never seen one of these medical devices before and wondered how kids shining flashlights through their palms somehow became a device that measured the wavelength of the light passing through in order to determine oxygen saturation. How does somebody come up with an idea like that?
In P.W. Cross’ The Lost Lake Dig, two young boys from the mid-18th century learn that ideas, like the one I just discussed, originate in a special place, a reality quite separate from our own, and these realities have been connected for eons. In this separate place ideas are physical things that are mined, transported, shipped, and curated by a complex society of humans, dwarves, and elves, then sent to our own world to be revealed when the time is right for the revealing. Along the journey from here to there Cross introduces us to characters amusing and noble and courageous and timid and bold. Trolls, I was pleased to learn, remain repugnant in every reality.
For the readers of juvenile fiction and fantasy, The Lost Lake Dig is a remarkably creative adventure, full of dwarves, elves, humans, animals, and the always nefarious trolls, told in a new and wonderful way. Each of the many characters is unique and well-conceived, even that one who takes great umbrage whenever anyone suggests he has a broken arm, because the person who doctored it made it very clear that it was a fractured arm; didn’t say a word about broken. Or maybe it was the other way around.
Undercurrents of the story lead the reader to considering simultaneously ancient themes and modern things, and how they might be connected. There exist plot lines for readers both casual and reflective.
A delightful read that I heartily recommend. It will please mature readers and delight younger. P.W. Cross has created a charming world and written it in ways both approachable and worthy of more consideration. I look forward to further journeys.