What would you do if your consciousness were suddenly and truly expanded, and you could perceive beings and visions from a parallel universe? What would you do with this dangerous knowledge?
The prospect sounds exciting and dreadful all at once—the essence of adventure.
Sally Landaker’s The Cave of the Crystal Skull is an adventure written for middle grade readers that explores consciousness and parallel realms. While a quest involves a search for something of great value as its mainspring, adventures turn on the undertaking of a hazardous enterprise, one whose outcome is doubtful.
Adventures usually begin in happenstance, a happy coincidence or unhappy accident that leads to a situation so hazardous, the main character is tempted to turn away. Only the concern and care for others is enough to motivate the character to go forward.
Cousins Sonia and Eric stumble on a cave while exploring Black Mountain. When they encounter “a mystifying crystal skull” and “a menacing pool of bubbling mud,” the cousins recognize they are in danger. Still they vow to continue exploring the cave but to keep it a secret.
However, the powers that lie hidden in the cave don’t intend to stay hidden.
Eric does not question his sudden focus and confidence in his soccer game. Sonia, however, experiences a shift in consciousness so profound, she grows increasingly uncomfortable as she is transported to neighboring realms and begins to question her everyday world.
Sonia becomes more obsessed and defiant, unable to resist the lure of the cave even as she realizes the risk. Each time she exits the cave, she experiences a shift in consciousness that expands the boundaries of her known self. She begins to believe the crystal skull might have healing power and when a younger cousin becomes ill, Sonia engineers a plot to test her theory.
While on a quest, the hero must defeat the guardian of the treasure in order to bring the valuables home. In an adventure, there are no “others” who have to be destroyed. That’s part of what makes Huck Finn, Gulliver, and Robinson Crusoe so eternally refreshing.
As one enthusiastic, middle-grade reviewer noted, there are “no bad guys” in this story. They aren’t needed. Adventures tell a different kind of story, one that reveals the character’s growing consciousness as she encounters her marvelous world.
Sally Landaker’s The Cave of the Crystal Skull is available in Kindle and Print at amazon.com