Wednesday, June 14, 2017

REVIEW: Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold by Iain Reading

Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold
Author: Iain Reading
Series: Kitty Hawk Flying Detective Agency #1
Genre: Adventure

I received a copy of this book courtesy of the author and Book Publicity Services in exchange for an honest review.

My Rating:
3.5/5 stars
PG-13 for mild language throughout
Recommend to readers looking for realistic, historical adventure stories. Also for fans of strong heroines and little to no romance.

Summary (via Goodreads)
After leaving her home in the western Canadian fishing village of Tofino to spend the summer in Alaska studying humpback whales Kitty finds herself caught up in an unforgettable adventure involving stolen gold, devious criminals, ghostly shipwrecks, and bone-chilling curses. Kitty's adventure begins with the lingering mystery of a sunken ship called the Clara Nevada and as the plot continues to unfold this spirited story will have armchair explorers and amateur detectives alike anxiously following every twist and turn as they are swept along through the history of the Klondike Gold Rush to a suspenseful final climatic chase across the rugged terrain of Canada's Yukon, the harsh land made famous in the stories and poems of such writers as Jack London, Robert Service and Pierre Berton. It is a riveting tale that brings to glorious life the landscape and history of Alaska's inside passage and Canada's Yukon, as Kitty is caught up in an epic mystery set against the backdrop of the scenery of the Klondike Gold Rush.

The Review

Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold is a fun adventure with plenty of history and daring, featuring a great and capable heroine, but a little heavy-handed on facts and details.

What initially struck me about this book is the great voice of the main character, 19-year-old adventurer Kitty Hawk. This girl has spunk and energy and Reading does a fantastic job showing that through this first person narration. Readers will appreciate Kitty's humor, sarcasm, determination, and smarts. She's capable and clever and, best of all, she doesn't make those face-palming, stupid decisions so many YA characters seem to make. In addition to her strong personality, Kitty is a licensed pilot and the owner of a De Havilland Beaver, in full possession of the empowering quality of figuring out what she wants and going for it, no matter what; she is definitely the best thing about this book.  Part Nancy Drew, part Amelia Earhart, Kitty Hawk is a good role model for girls; she reminded me particularly of my beloved Vesper Holly, Lloyd Alexander's adventure heroine from his series of the same name.

While Kitty's voice in the prologue hooked my attention, the book does have a slow start after that, detailing a lot of Kitty's background and childhood, the technical specifics of flying a plane, a lot of her whale research, and quite a history lesson into the Klondike Gold Rush. I skimmed a good deal of this, because I found it rather dry. It wasn't until after 80 pages before I really got into it, but once the adventure gets under way, the reading went pretty fast.

The story itself was rather unexpected; it took a much different direction than I thought it would and I actually kind of loved it. This is much more of an adventure story than a traditional mystery, because Kitty isn't Nancy Drew sneaking clues to solve something; she's more of an Indiana Jones, setting off on a mission, but stumbling into an adventure along the way. There's even a pretty good Indiana Jones moment in the story; don't worry, you'll know it when you read it.

This delves deep into the history of Alaska and the Klondike, which I really love, and it has a strong sense of place, from the coast of Alaska to its fierce wilderness. Unfortunately, a lot of the information is conveyed through off-putting info dumps; even when another character is telling Kitty a story it feels more like reading a Wikipedia page than a conversation. I skipped over a lot of the history and technical information because it was too dry for my taste.

Interesting, fun, and educational, I wound up loving the adventure, the concept, and the characters. I would love to see some of these characters (specifically one) pop up in the other books, because I liked Kitty's chemistry with them (him). Outside of Kitty's great voice I had a hard time with the writing style, though Reading does paint some gorgeous and poetic landscapes.

Overall, I enjoyed it enough that I plan on checking out the rest of the series someday.

Realistic adventure fiction is a hard genre to come by.
Have you read any good ones?


  1. Ooh shipwrecks and the Yukon. These look like a lot of fun, and the covers are always striking too. The info dumping and slow start do sound problematic but glad it was mostly good! The adventure theme sounds great.

  2. oh I hate when lotsa telling ruin what otherwise would have been so good! Glad you enjoyed it despite :)

    1. It's always a tricky balance for me. I do so hate telling. :P