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Lafitte's Black Box Review

At fourteen, Devereaux Parker is forced to leave his friends and longtime Natchez home when his parents relocate to post-Katrina New Orleans. Unhappy about the move, he soon meets Sam and the two boys became friends.

A year after the move, Devereaux begins having dreams where he is captured by pirates and held against his will. During the dreams, he becomes part of the notorious pirate Jean Lafitte’s gang of thieves. Lafitte took control of New Orleans in the early 1800s, using the city as his home base. Over the ensuing weeks, Devereaux is drawn more deeply into each dream until he is terrified he will never make it back to reality.

Back in modern day New Orleans, Devereaux and Sam check out a long abandoned mansion and find a black box that looks to have belonged to Lafitte. Among the loot is a map carved in stone. Although the map is in French, the boys are able to follow the various leads as they come closer to finding the treasure they suspect Lafitte left behind.

Author Jake Webber has written a book that will appeal to middle-school age students and above. Adults who appreciate adventure and mystery, and a good deal of history, will also enjoy Lafitte’s Black Box. It is obvious Webber loves history and Louisiana. After much research he has combined the two into a hair-raising tale traversing two centuries of New Orleans history.

Added to the story are flashbacks of two years before while Devereaux is still living in Natchez. He and his friend Taylor find themselves lost in the Devil’s Punchbowl, a natural, deep hole filled with a forest so quiet there are no sounds of animals, wind, or air. Their story is interwoven into Sam and Devereaux’s, sometimes causing confusion to the reader as the story is also moving back and forth between the pirate-based dream sequences.

Webber has deftly interwoven suspension of belief with reality, past history with modern day life experiences. He has fleshed out his characters so that the reader understands a father’s concern, a mother’s love, the bond between friends, and relationships formed when least expected.

Lafitte’s Black Box easily draws the reader into an amazing adventure. After the reader finishes the story, it is suggested he or she take a few moments to comprehend the startling finish. Then, go back and reread the prologue.

There is so much information and history in this novel, a second reading will surely benefit the reader while not taking away from the enjoyment of the adventure.

A special thanks goes to Jake Webber who sent me a complimentary copy of Lafitte’s Black Box for review. You can purchase this book through Amazon.com by clicking on this link.

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