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Plato, Earl
St. Catharines (Ont.), Vanwell Publishing, 1991. 157pp, cloth, $12.95, ISBN 0-920277-69-1. CIP

Grades 5 and up/Ages 10 and up

Reviewed by Anne Kelly

Volume 20 Number 4
1992 September

Terror at Snake Hill is a story about the Fenian Raid of 1866. Peter James Plattow returns from fighting in the American Civil War to find his father turned against him and the Fenians poised to attack from across the Niagara River. Along with his friends Simon and Pierre, Peter James joins the newly formed Bertie Volunteers as a scout. The fight soon becomes personal as Peter James confronts an old enemy, Travers Baloo.

Terror at Snake Hill is well researched. The historical information is accurate and detailed. Unfortunately, the book is poorly written and poorly edited. The plot is jumbled and difficult to follow. Characters are shallow and some, like Baloo and Pierre, are stereotyped. Dialogue is forced and unnatural. Long speeches, lengthy prayers and statements of the obvious combine to destroy the flow of the action. Transitions between scenes and between speakers are badly handled; in at least two cases speakers are mixed up in mid-paragraph.

The tragedy of this novel is that it has a good plot line and excellent research. The author, Earl Plato, has a personal involvement with the story which could have added depth. With careful rewriting, more time and thorough editing, it could have been a great book. Instead, Terror at Snake Hill is a disappointment.

Anne Kelly is a part-time Masters of Education student at St. Mary's University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and a substitute teacher with the Halifax and Dartmouth District School Boards.

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