Riddle in the Mountain

Written by Daryl Burkhard
Review by Alice Logsdon

Kathy and David Henley have just moved to Boulder, Colorado. They have become acquainted with a boy their age, Frank Kessler. A neighbor, Mrs. Acheson, noticing their interest in local history, and sensing Kathy’s special gift of hearing what others can’t, fills them in on local legends, including tales involving tommyknockers, little men who live in the mines and know where the gold is. Hearing of this, Frank mentions he knows a place supposedly haunted by ghosts. He challenges Kathy and David to meet him at midnight so they can explore the site.

The children meet and crawl beneath the porch of a house up the street. They move further and further back, until a voice speaks out of the darkness. Seeing a small man with sparkling black eyes, they try to leave, but he tells them they must solve his riddle before returning home. That becomes trickier when they step out of their refuge to find no houses, no lights, just the much smaller town of Boulder down the grassy hill.

I enjoyed this young adult novel, filled with fictional and real characters and settings from Boulder’s past. Each child has to work out his or her part of the riddle, moving the action along to a satisfying conclusion. My ten-year-old son wasn’t quite as enthusiastic. He thought the beginning chapters were “too long and boring,” but agreed that it got better the more he read.