Sunday, August 7, 2016

Book Review: The Deadly Curse of Toco Rey

A Fair Trade Book

Title: The Deadly Curse of Toco Rey

Author: Frank Peretti

Author's web site:

Date: 1996

Publisher: Word

ISBN: 0-8499-3644-6

Length: 150 pages

Quote: “I’ve run into more than my share of curses and hexes and magic spells, and my God has been greater than all of them.”

Some ancient curses consisted of someone expressing uncharitable thoughts…and some of them were as powerful as anthrax. Before science as we know it had come to exist, some, though not most, ancient magicians observed the strange and sometimes deadly properties of real objects in the real world, and set up real “magical” effects with truly weird—and sometimes deadly—“powers.” In a world where either too much or too little of either of two chemicals can kill us, and we normally add a mix of those chemicals (called "salt") to our food, The Deadly Curse ofToco Rey is a less preposterous story than it might initially sound.

In the fictive world of this story, the curse of Toco-Rey is one of the real ones. It’s science fiction, but because real science has discovered equally strange things, young readers may go beyond just turning the pages to find out how the story ends. Some of them will want to know more about the real species of plants, animals, and fungi that thrive in “jungle” environments, that contain “powers” (or chemical properties) that can kill, heal, and nourish humans. Peretti invents two new species for the purposes of his plot; almost equally strange creatures exist in the real rain forests of Latin America. (This web site supports saving rain forests, although there's a right way and a wrong way to do that.)

Dr. Cooper, archaeologist and Christian, frowns on treasure hunting but agrees to join some other Americans investigating reports of an ancient treasure guarded by an ancient curse, taking with him his two quiet, precocious children, Jay and Lila. When the curse strikes Lila, her father and brother have to expose themselves, more or less knowingly, to the same mortal danger in order to rescue her…but they won’t be the ones who actually rescue Lila; within hours she’ll rescue them. Before they leave Mexico the Coopers will have found a scientific explanation of the curse, made friends of the allegedly hostile native tribe, scared a few pusillanimous Mexicans into reforming, and made their fictional world a better place by helping to shorten the lives of the real villains.  

Young readers who like a novel with generous helpings of terror, horror, and gross-outs will like The Deadly Curse of Toco Rey. Adults who remember the comic books of the 1950s and 1960s may enjoy this book as a nostalgia trip; it’s wholesome—nobody even swears—and it may lead some readers to appreciate our marvellous Creation, but it’s the sort of story Marvel used to handle. 

To buy this book from this web site, send $5 per book + $5 per package to either address at the very bottom of the screen; from this total of $10 we'll send $1 to Peretti or the charity of his choice. I can't guarantee that all eight books in the series will fit into one package, although I'll squeeze as hard as I can...anyway, for those who like children's adventure stories with a Christian flavor, there are eight Cooper Kids books (so far), and if you want to encourage Peretti by buying them as Fair Trade Books, the set will (currently) cost $60, and Peretti or his charity will get $6.