Always the meticulous wordsmith, Conway’s Dan Skelton has produced a very readable book titled "The Secret of Spirit Lake," his venture into the field of young adult novels,
The characters stand strong in the face of the mysterious and dangerous; the secrets of the lake reforming and determining the lives of two young people.
The book is a departure from the conventional Skelton, he of very adult yarns that are often salty in language. But this one, in a inimitably talky way, stimulates the mind, and touches the heart with action that is penetrating. Young readers will find choice accounts in its pages.
The story by the current adjunct professor of English at Arkansas State University — Beebe, suggests that real power wells up from within. But when you are a rather scrawny thirteen-year-old, how can you tell the difference between confident and foolhardy. Corey Starkey, is certainly not grown up, but he no longer is a true child. He feels himself trapped with no answers — like water seeking the easiest way out of any situation. He pleases no one, including himself.
The novel pulls together many of Skelton’s remarkable storytelling talents in a tidy whole. The book’s tone, language and story are certainly cuttings of children’s literature, yet this might well be a children’s work for grownups. You must see for yourself.
And so the story goes, Corey meets his new stepsister Miah whose bravado overwhelms the boy’s conservativeness. Her unyielding force meets his immovable (so he thought) object and they dare, struggle and explore. They stand strong in the face of the mysterious and dangerous. The secrets of Spirit Lake imposed changes in their lives.
And the secrets? They’re out there in black and white for the perusal.
The secrets of the lake, of course, do come from the facile mind of Skelton, a former professor of English and theater who earned degrees from State Teachers College, now the University of Central Arkansas, the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville and the University of Mississippi ,Oxford.
Skelton shows in his work powers of description turning phrases nicely, and writes with a certain fluency. His books attest to that disclaimer.
At the end, Spirit Lake is a compelling story that will make the reader happy he found it. It is fodder for the reviewer who would write that the book is a tribute to courage, creating meaning out of chaos.
The book is available on line and at Amazon and Hastings.