This is the third book in Peretti’s series about the Cooper family and it’s the best, at least of the first four; there was a long break after the first four and then Peretti ended up coming back quite a long time later with three more and one of those three is a possible contender for best of the series as well. In this book, an archaeological dig goes south when a young member of the expedition ventures deep into a hidden tomb and then disappears. The Coopers arrive to investigate and find themselves in a strange world. What happened to the man who disappeared? What makes that strange wailing sound at night? What of the tales of a six-fingered god that wreaks vengeance on all who disturb his tomb? This book is just pure pulp adventure-horror. It scared me so badly when I was a kid that I couldn’t finish it. I put it away and didn’t finish it for years when I first tried to read it. There are still a couple of sequences that work well even as an adult for the scares and this book is, on the whole, just the hardest and edgiest of the entire series. People actually die in this book in quite gruesome ways; two significant characters die at different points in this book and while the book is vague on the details, it hints well enough that things are pretty gruesome. There’s also a disturbing scene where the main characters discover a farm where the villain of the book has slaughtered an entire herd of goats by disemboweling them. There are still a few clunky moments, but this is Peretti’s most intense writing for children and the book has real energy, real suspense and, while it’s still present, the overt Christianity of the main characters is rendered in a less preachy way. This one’s just great fun. 4 stars.
tl;dr – third book in Cooper adventure series frightened me intensely as a child; as an adult, it’s still a high-energy, surprisingly dark & violent entry in the series and a load of fun. 4 stars.