CM Archive
CM Archive Book Review line

Christopher Hyde.

Toronto, Seal Books, c1983.
269pp, paper, $3.50.
ISBN 0-7704-1765-5.

Grades 12 and up.
Reviewed by David Chadwick.

Volume 11 Number 3.
1983 May.

Disaster books continue to be a popular literary device, and this novel Styx is typical of the genre. Each disaster book tries to come up with a unique twist in setting. Styx is the story of a group of archaeologists trapped in a cave when an earthquake covers the only known exit to the surface. They are then forced to follow ancient tunnels and the River Styx in an attempt to find another way out of the cave.

Cave disasters have been worked as plots before. Hyde gives his plot an original twist by having the survivors trace the steps of their hypothetical ancestors, who were also trapped and forced to find their way out of the same cave 40,000 years previously. It is this archaeological aspect upon which the tale attempts sophistication. The modern survivors can succeed only if they believe that their ancestors succeeded in a similar situation eons previously.

Regrettably Hyde stretches credibility by characterizing the leader of the Neanderthals as a sexist Superman. Ironically, one of the protagonists of the novel early on warns against such conjecture saying, "It is fantasy based on nothing," and highly unprofessional. Sadly Hyde fails to take the advice himself, and what is poor archaeology is, in this case, poor writing as well.

Hyde does write convincingly of the physical aspects of caves and as far as the adventure itself goes, the book is an adequate page turner. Still one wonders what the novel would have been like if the emphasis had been more on archaeology and less on disaster and sex. Written for a general audience, the book could be read by senior high school students but cannot be highly recommended.

David Chadwick, Norway House H. S., Norway House, MB.
line indexes


1971-1979 | 1980-1985 | 1986-1990 | 1991-1995


The materials in this archive are copyright © The Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission Copyright information for reviewers

Young Canada Works