Follow the adventures of Jem Coulter, a twelve-year-old living in California at the height of the Gold Rush. In Canyon of Danger, Jem is left in charge of the ranch while his sheriff father travels to Sacramento. However, being the man-in-charge isn’t quite as easy as his father makes it look and Jem gets in to one scrape after another. Somehow, Jem must find a way to put things right- before his father returns home.
In River of Peril, Jem is able to travel with his father on his next trip to Sacramento. Jem is excited because he has never traveled so far from home. However, his misadventures begin when their stage is held up by highwaymen after their shipment of gold. Then, after they arrive safely in Sacramento, Jem and his sister are exploring the docks and are invited to tour a riverboat. Jem’s misadventures continue when he overhears some of the same highwaymen aboard the riverboat. Shortly afterward, Jem’s sister disappears. It is up to Jem to rescue her before it’s too late.
These books are classified as juvenile fiction, but I enjoyed them very much. The language and storyline are easy for younger readers to enjoy, but the plot offers up some unexpected surprises that make these books enjoyable for adults to read, too. These books would be great to supplement curriculum when studying the days of the California Gold Rush, to give students insight into every day life at the time.
Jem’s faith and his dependence on God in times of difficulty and uncertainty is encouraging, and his respect and conviction to do the right thing is admirable. He is a great role model for juvenile readers. I love the way Marlow pulls in a lot of American history into her tales, such as the Pony Express, riverboats, and the building of the railroads.
These two books, Canyon of Danger and River of Peril are books 3 & 4 in Marlow’s Goldtown Adventures Series. I haven’t read the first two books, Badge of Honor or Tunnel of Gold, but it was easy to get a feel for the characters and their history.
If you are looking for a read-aloud for younger boys or independent reading for readers into chapter books, look no further. I don’t have anything negative to say about these. They are perfect, especially for boys that might be resistant to reading. The stories move quickly and will hold their interest. Sometimes it is difficult to find decent books for boys, but I think these are great!
I received complimentary copies of these books from Kregel Publications in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.