________________ CM . . . . Volume XIV Number 4 . . . . October 12, 2007


The Black Pyramid. (The Mole Wars; Book 2).

J. Fitzgerald McCurdy.
Toronto, ON: HarperCollins, 2006.
373 pp., pbk. & hc., $15.99 (pbk.), $22.99 (hc.).
ISBN 978-00-0-639330-6 (pbk.), ISBN 978-0-00-200574-6 (hc.).

Grades 5-10 / Ages 10-15.

Review by Ann Ketcheson.

**** /4


A wave of cold hit him in the face like a fist. The Disciplinarian's head whipped about and faced where he and Travis stood motionless at the top of the steps. At the last moment, Steele threw himself onto his stomach and slithered backwards down the stairs until he was out of sight.

A beat later he heard Travis stifle a gasp and hit the steps beside him. They stayed like that, face down, stretched uncomfortably over the steps, until Steele thought he'd go out of his mind if he didn't soon move.

They were afraid to remain where they were, but even more afraid to flee. Steele strained to fix the Disciplinarian's location. Had it seen them? A moment later his heart sank as he heard the clang of the farthest gate opening, followed by heavy footsteps coming closer.


The Black Pyramid is the sequel to The Fire Demons and is the second book in “The Mole Wars” trilogy. Readers again accompany Steele and Riley as they continue to search for children who have disappeared from all over the United States and Canada and whose memories have been stolen as well. The search becomes even more personally important because their friend Mac has disappeared along with hundreds of other children. This part of the adventure takes the pair to Chicago where they are joined by a new friend, Travis.

     Nothing has prepared them for what lies ahead. The bully Dirk the Jerk reappears, but far more dangerous enemies are lurking in the fantasy world: fire demons, Maladroids and the Prince of Darkness himself, the epitome of evil. Eventually they are in the horror- and terror-filled world of the Black Pyramid itself.

     Once again J. Fitzgerald McCurdy has written a fast-moving and original fantasy novel which sweeps readers along on a thrilling adventure with virtually no stop in the action - or the suspense! The descriptions of the various settings, both real and other-worldly, are clear and detailed. The characters from The fire demons are again involved, and McCurdy develops them further, not only as action heroes but also along the theme of having friends you can count on when you need them. There are moments of humour with Pyrus the salamander or with Steele as he continues to learn how to use his magic powers. There are also moments of real empathy when the friends find the missing children and realize how terribly they have been treated. But overwhelmingly, the book is a fast-paced tale of excitement and adventure.

     For readers who want the adrenalin rush of fear, chills and page-turning suspense, The Black Pyramid may well become a favourite novel. And McCurdy cleverly prepares readers for more of the same at he end of the book: "Slowly the black salamander approached the black thing. He peered into it. The surface of the dark medallion wavered and seemed to stretch toward the salamander. A moment later, both the medallion and Pyrus were gone."

Highly Recommended.

Ann Ketcheson, a retired teacher-librarian and teacher of high school English and French, lives in Ottawa, ON.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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.

Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.