HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: The Virginia Underground
Author: Joseph B. Hicks
Publisher: CreateSpace, 2011
Related website: www.josephbhicks.com (author)
Language level: 2
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Reading level: Ages 8 and up
Rating: 5 stars (EXCELLENT)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Hicks, Joseph B. The Virginia Underground (published in 2011 by CreateSpace). Do you have any idea about what might be going on under the ground beneath your feet? Jake Patterson is a nine-year-old boy living with his mother deep in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. Nine years ago, just days before Jake was born, his father disappeared and was presumed dead from a logging accident after his bloody clothes were found on the mountain behind their house. As a result, Jake’s mother demands that he stay within her sight at all times. One summer day, Jake sneaks away to look at the area where his father died and while on the mountain meets a gnome-like Lymrin named Krindle who tells Jake that his father was killed by the Parix of Undrasol, a bunch of hairless, black, scaly monkey-like creatures ruled by an evil king named Robustus. The Parix had also captured and enslaved Krindle’s people.
All these things had occurred in the lands under the Virginia mountains. So Krindle enlists Jake’s aid to see if they can defeat the Parix. The book follows the adventures of Jake and Krindle as they travel through the underground lands of Tundros, Florina, the Brokenbark Forest, the Wandering Woodlands, the Lake of Flames, and Lamel. They meet such interesting creatures as the rock-like Mozians, Grass Trolls, the bear-like Bull Moles, the wooden Twigknots, Flower Gnomes, and the ice elves known as Blizzians Help comes from colorful characters like Arctos, Bentley of the Bee’s Knees, the Madd Hag, Mowelle the Bull Mole, and Hal the Tree Keeper. All along the way, Krindle explains to Jake the details of the events that led up to his father’s disappearance. Will Jake and Krindle be able to muster an army strong enough to fight the Parix? And what really happened to Jake’s father anyway?
Those who like science fiction-fantasy stories will find The Virginia Underground an exciting book. There is little objectionable. A couple of references to people who smoke pipes, some common euphemisms (gee, heck), and a statement by Jake about “upside-down crawling my butt back to the riverbank” occur, but most people will have no problems with these things. There are a few descriptions of scenes which are a little gruesome, so it would not be appropriate for small children or those who are especially sensitive. However, with its relatively short chapters and fast-paced action, most middle-school aged readers and above should enjoy the adventurous quest of Jake and Krindle. Once I started reading, it was difficult to put down. A sequel, The Tennessee Underground where Jake and Krindle help the Fern Sprites battle the Wormboys, is scheduled for this coming summer, and author Joseph B. Hicks says of the two heroes, “At this time, neither of them knows of the horrors that await them in Tennessee, not to mention the Carolinas.”