Mary McWay Seaman reviews Celtic Run by Colorado author Sean Vogel. (Meet Sean at November 3 book signing)
Mary McWay Seaman reviewed the novel Celtic Run in the October 2012 Celtic Connection. You can read the positive review below.
Mary reviews monthly in her column, BOOKKEEPING.
Sean Vogel will be at Kerreen O’Connor Irish Goods in Littleton CO. (2595 West Alamo Ave Littleton, CO 303-794-6388) on Saturday November 3rd , 12-2PM, to sign copies of Celtic Run.
BOOKKEEPING by Mary McWay Seaman
CELTIC RUN by Sean Vogel (MB Publishing, 2012, 159 pages, paperback, $9.95)
Looking for a page-turner to please that younger adolescent? CELTIC RUN is a sure bet with international travel, a thrilling treasure hunt, and pursuits by a criminal cartel. This contemporary Irish escapade begins as three American teenagers in a cultural exchange program find themselves embroiled in a mystery fraught with danger. Jake, Zach and Julie, and their Irish friend Maggie are all coping with family problems that include detached parents, dictatorial parents, a disabled single parent and parental unemployment. The Americans, housed with host families in Dingle, are keenly aware that they are in a foreign country; they hone their observational skills, weigh alternative actions, and learn to think on their feet. They also join forces to organize and execute plans. Plenty of rollicking sideshows (the kind that can only happen in Ireland) shift this novel into high gear.
Zach is a big, overbearing guy with the wet-blanket potential to ruin the whole experience, and he and Jake get off on the wrong foot. Jake, whose mother is deceased and whose father is disabled, settles in with Maggie O’Connell’s family. Maggie’s father has been unemployed for two years, and he vanishes two nights every week without explanation – the same times that bandits are raiding local museums. Her mother works in a local pub, and teenager Maggie gave up Irish dancing for part-time work there. Young readers will find the Irish pub culture absorbing, especially its embrace of all ages, all the time.
Jake rescues a small child from the sea around Blasket Sound and discovers a relic from the 400-year-old Spanish Armada shipwreck. The teens are fascinated by the history behind the English defeat of Spanish Armada in 1588, and they learn that many of the battle’s artifacts are housed in the area’s museums; however, the bulk of the legendary treasure has never been found. After Jake shows his artifact to the curator of a local museum, he is promptly dismissed: “This is an old country, lad, and you can dig up all sorts of bits and bobs . . . but most of it’s just tinkers’ tin.” Jake refuses to hand over his treasure to the man for further study. The kids are no longer interested in the curator or the museum, but the curator is most assuredly interested in them. They learn that they are being followed, and the four of them close ranks to become a cohesive unit.
The inscription on Jake’s artifact points to a nearby church, so they explore ancient Skellig Michael, and Jake, master of electronic gadgets, keeps his pen-sized, fiber optic camera handy. They pick up an item of interest that is confiscated by the harbormaster, but cleverly retrieved. Teamwork pays off, and serendipity is a plentiful commodity as Jake meets an old man, “the Colonel” who turns out to be his great-uncle. Colonel McGreevy commands him to call if he ever needs assistance. The museum bandits continue their rampages on the days when Maggie’s father vanishes (coincidence?). The kids attempt to follow him into an area near Mount Brandon, but inadvertently stumble into a tinker camp. The tinker’s old tool advances the action, and insights into the travelers’ culture prove fascinating.
Julie is kidnapped and taken to Corráin Castle near Dunquin. Her rescue and a new game plan require heavy artillery and missiles along with Jake’s trusty Leatherman: water balloons, slingshots, a large-capacity water pistol, a semiautomatic disc gun, a foghorn, silly string, a radio-transmitting dog collar, flashlights, chocolate syrup, flour, molasses, vegetable oil, plastic bags and whoopee cushions (who knew?). The hunt proceeds to an underground cave. What secrets does the cave hold? Is the ancient Spanish treasure there? At this point readers learn the meaning of a Celtic Run – a clan saying: “a good run is better than a bad stand.” And run they do.
Evil-doers, double agents, gripping chase scenes, and bits of romance are woven through the novel with bracing lessons about first impressions and the fact that things are not always what they appear to be. One impression, however, remains steadfast: the role of family hardship in supporting self-reliance, self-discipline, problem-solving skills, patience, teamwork and initiative. The high-speed thriller CELTIC RUN will not only transport and enchant young readers, it will inspire them to consider life’s longer view and to double down on preparations for a meaningful future.