The Treasure of Ocracoke Island by John Gillgren
Publisher: Promontory Press (November 17, 2015)
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What could be more engaging for children and their families than a featured villain who impersonates the infamous pirate Blackbeard? Gillgren’s third book The Treasure of Ocracoke Island in The Adventures of the Cali Family series brings back old villains, introduces new plot twists, and puts more at stake to find lost treasure.

It is the early 1700s, and Blackbeard prides himself on wreaking havoc, while also being an intelligent ladies’ man. However, his reign ends when a British ship invades, leading to his beheading at Ocracoke Bay; his treasure’s location is supposedly lost at sea. The year 1942 sails in, depicting the Russian ship Saratov being sunk by two torpedoes, which concealed a footlocker of gold that was going to pay the United States for war supplies.

The reader is brought back to present day with the Cali family, who are forced to search for the lost treasure of Ocracoke Island. When the women in Carmine’s family are kidnapped by a sinister man resembling Blackbeard, him, Snail, Tommy Osawa, and NCIS Special Agent Moki Loo Tsing must battle against time to save their loved ones.

Gillgren creates a stunning cast of villains that engage with the Cali family. The Blackbeard offender is both shocking and silly as he uses his faux accent to intimidate the women he kidnaps. Gillgren also brings back the dastardly villain Mr. Chang, who is determined to have his revenge on the Cali family for cheating him of money and opium. It becomes apparent as the novel progresses that Mr. Chang wants more than just wealth.

This series continues to craft daring heroes and heroines. The women in the Cali family show resistance and strength against Blackbeard’s threat; emulating a sort of Charlie’s Angels attitude against a wannabe pirate with a ridiculous costume. Gillgren also continues to develop characters from his previous books, particularly in regards to Snail. Snail is a youth who shows great maturity when the kidnapping situation becomes intense, and he inspires the older men of the family to follow suit. Such characters are a great inspiration to how families come together in times of adversity.

The novel contained enough tension and suspense to sink Blackbeard’s ship Adventure. The story contains multiple perspectives of different characters, leaving the reader with many cliff-hangers when the point of view shifted. Each character introduced new waves of anticipation.

Gillgren’s children’s series The Adventures of the Cali Family offers another treasure travel story that pushes mystery, family, and adventure into new depths of fun.

This reviewer highly recommends this book for children and their families who are interested in historical stories about adventure and family. Oh, and an ending that twists the tides of a plot.