STARRED REVIEW
July 21, 2015

Adventures in Mammoth Cave

By Jennifer Bradbury
Review by

In Jennifer Bradbury’s exciting new work of historical fiction, River Runs Deep, 12-year-old Elias is suffering from tuberculosis in 1842. He’s sent from his home in Norfolk, Virginia, to recover in an underground hut in Mammoth Cave, Kentucky. He will be cared for by the real-life Dr. John Croghan, who during one winter ministered to 16 tuberculosis patients, who sought the benefit of the cave's dank air and lived in small rooms built by slaves.

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In Jennifer Bradbury’s exciting new work of historical fiction, River Runs Deep, 12-year-old Elias is suffering from tuberculosis in 1842. He’s sent from his home in Norfolk, Virginia, to recover in an underground hut in Mammoth Cave, Kentucky. He will be cared for by the real-life Dr. John Croghan, who during one winter ministered to 16 tuberculosis patients, who sought the benefit of the cave's dank air and lived in small rooms built by slaves.

As the world’s longest known cave system, with more than 400 explored miles of passages, Mammoth Cave is a fitting setting for this middle grade adventure. As lonely Elias lies in bed recuperating, he feels like he’s dying of boredom, but soon he meets a cast of characters who draw him into a web of intrigue involving a group of slaves hiding in a large secret chamber and a bounty hunter determined to find them.

Elias befriends several real-life slaves (Stephen Bishop, Materson and Nick Bransford) who show him many of the cave’s wonders and pitfalls, such as the Star Chamber and the Bottomless Pit. As Elias begins to recover, his strength and energy become vital to uncovering a fellow patient’s nefarious scheme to capture the hidden slaves. Elias’ own questioning of his attitudes toward his family’s slaves provides readers with just the right touch of moral perspective.

A map at the beginning helps readers follow the mounting action, and suggestions for further reading are helpful. Bradbury, who grew up near the cave, has created a thrilling underground adventure that’s jam-packed with fascinating historical tidbits.

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River Runs Deep

River Runs Deep

By Jennifer Bradbury
Atheneum
ISBN 9781442468245

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