Resource Links Review - Tunnels of Terror

Reviewed by: Karen Munro

Tunnels of Terror, the sequel to Mary Harelkin Bishop's previous Tunnels of Time, relates the further time-traveling adventures of Andrea Talbot. In this book, fourteen-year-old Andrea and her nine year-old brother Tony return to Moose Jaw, only to find that their grandparents are out of town due to an emergency. Andrea must take charge and help Tony deal with his diabetes, a task which becomes immeasurably harder when the pair travel back in time to the 1920s. 

The two quickly meet with their grandfather and great-aunt, and team up to help solve a mysterious rash of thefts from Moose Jaw businesses.

Beanie, Andrea and Tony's great-aunt, suspects that there is corruption in the local police force, and that stolen goods are being smuggled through the city's network of underground tunnels. With the help of Rosie, an unmarried mother who has been shunned by the Moose Jaw community, the youngsters manage to free the innocent Constable Paterson and catch the real criminals - the Sergeant and members of the police night shift - in the act.

Young readers who haven't read Bishop's first book may find this one hard to follow, especially since she relies fairly heavily on readers' established understanding of the characters' relationships. Instead of showing these relationships in detail, she often simply mentions events from the previous book, which can feel exclusive and obscure to a new reader. Also, the intensity of fear and threatened violence in some scenes may be too much for sensitive or younger readers. The book opens with Andrea's vivd dream of being pursued and strangled by Scarface, the villain from the previous novel, and she is threatened at gunpoint at the end of the book. Situations like these require a sure narrative touch to prevent their becoming too graphic and disturbing, and Bishop doesn't have it. Tunnels of Terror may be a good read for kids learning to cope with diabetes, and it does a good job of stressing positive thought, teamwork, and tolerance, but it lacks real punch in the end.

Thematic Links: Saskatchewan History; Moose Jaw Tunnels; Time Travel; Diabetes; Girl Protagonists

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