Gunther's Cavern

Young Adult - Sci-Fi
Kindle Edition
Reviewed on 01/10/2015
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite

Gunther's Cavern is a young adult fantasy/science fiction novel written by Edward Etzkorn. Eleven of New Calar's kids went missing one day in July, and no one's seen them since. The authorities figure they've run away, but their parents fear kidnapping or worse. It's been puzzling Gunther and his sister June, who don't live in New Calar but attend school there. The brother and sister mostly hang out with each other and the summer's been fun, especially since both their mother and father are away at work. Gunther's dream has been to find a cave on the hundred-acre family property, and one day the stream where Gunther found an albino crayfish and fish seemed a bit different. There was a small hole under a large rock, which seemed to be getting larger as the sand shifted. Gunther and June are determined to investigate what appears to be a magnificent network of caves. They've got some caving experience and gear, so what could go wrong with a little exploration?

Edward Etzkorn's preteen and young adult fantasy/science fiction novel, Gunther's Cavern, is a grand subterranean adventure, and will be rollicking fun for young-at-heart adults as well as its target audience. It's also the well-plotted and written coming of age story of Gunther, a introverted and lonely 15-year-old whose interactions at school have heretofore been pretty awful. Etzkorn builds an incredible subterranean world teeming with huge tardigrades, otherwise known as water bears, gigantic salamanders and a vast army of cave insects grown huge. I had so much fun reading this book, after all, who hasn't wanted to discover a vast system of caves, especially in your backyard? The tardigrades, which look pretty cute when Googled, are spooky and threatening as giant cave dwellers. Gunther's Cavern is one of those books that you won't want to put down until you've finished it. It's that good and it's most highly recommended.

Karen Walpole

Gunther’s Cavern by Edward Etzkorn tells the story of a brother and a sister, Gunther and June. They have moved from one town to another throughout their lives because of their parents’ careers. All their moving, and the fact that their parents are a little strange, make it difficult to make new friends. Gunther and June spend most of the time together and consequently grow very close. They even invent their own language. One summer, when they are 14 and 16, they find the entrance to a cave on their property. The teenagers enter the cave which leads them on an adventure. They get lost in the cavern, and have to find ways to battle creatures that have evolved underground.

Gunther’s Cavern by Edward Etzkorn is a wonderful adventure story young people will love. The characters are appealing to the reader, especially to anyone who has ever felt like an outsider. The many characters, both primary and supportive, are well developed. I got to know enough about each person including the irresponsible handyman and the spooky neighbor girl. I was able to picture each in my mind’s eye. The plot is fast moving and very imaginative. There are unexpected twists and turns which keep the reader from putting the book down. There were occasionally images that I didn’t understand, but there were many more images that worked well. I think I would have arranged the ending somewhat differently. Otherwise, I enjoyed the book very much.

Paul Johnson

Gunther is a 15-year-old living a quiet life on the edge of New York’s Catskill Mountains. He’s always been the butt of jokes and ridicule at school from the jocks and other elites, but becomes concerned when eleven of his fellow students disappear without a trace at the start of summer.
Gunther and his sister June love caves and are very excited to discover a cave entrance in the back of his family’s farm. Deciding on a quick recon, their excitement turns to fear when they become trapped inside and have no choice but to make their way through the cave in search of another exit. Their journey proves far more perilous than expected. They are soon captured by intelligent creatures, the four-foot-high tardigrades who have also captured the missing students and have confined them to a prison camp. Aligned with Hood, one of his least favorite people, Gunther and June become convinced that breaking out is their only option, forcing them to evade a powerful tardigrade army if they are to escape with their lives…

I found Gunther’s Cavern to be a very good YA read. The author has shown a thorough knowledge of caves and caving. I like his range of characters, from Gunther to sister June with their made up language to his flighty poem spouting mother to his laid back, slightly off-centered father. The dialogue is good and completely fits the story line, and the descriptive action of the story is well developed. Once I started reading I didn’t want to stop until the very end. Well done.