Zan is a politician’s daughter and an adrenaline junkie. Whether she’s rock climbing or shoplifting, she loves to live on the edge. But she gets more of a rush than she bargained for on a forced mother–daughter bonding trip to Turkey, where she finds herself in the crosshairs of an antiquities smuggling ring. These criminals believe that Zan can lead them to an ancient treasure that’s both priceless and cursed. Until she does so, she and her family are in grave danger. Zan’s quest to save the treasure—and the lives of people she cares about—leads her from the sparkling Mediterranean, to the bustle of Istanbul's Grand Bazaar, to the eerie and crumbling caves of Cappadocia. But it seems that nowhere is safe, and there’s only so high she can climb before everything comes tumbling down.
|Penguin Young Readers Group
|12 - 17 Years
About the Author
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Part One: The Turkish Riviera
Looking up from the Lonely Planet Guide at the rocky hills all around us, I spoke for the first time in seventeen hours. “You know that sign we saw back at the roadblock?”
“What about it?” Mom asked.
“I’m pretty sure it said ‘detour.’” When I pointed to the word in the “Useful Phrases” section, she tore her eyes off the desolate road to look. “We should have seen more of those signs if we were on the right track.”
Mom gripped the steering wheel tighter. “Well. That’s good to know, Zan.”
I snapped the book shut and pressed my lips together.
“Does this mean you’re officially breaking your vow of silence?” Mom asked.
I sunk low into the passenger seat, my arms folded across my chest. Until this moment, Mom and I had not exchanged words for the entire flight from Boston, Massachusetts to the coastal town of Bodrum, Turkey, including airport transfers in Munich and Istanbul. But now it was hard to sit back and say nothing. After veering off the main road to Marmaris, Mom had been looping through the landscape on bumpy backgrounds for almost two hours. There was no sign of the harbor town where we were supposed to meet Aunt Jackie for our Blue Voyage cruise. Our map from the car rental agency had flown out the window miles ago. Asking directions at a village restaurant had resulted in more confusion, with men pointing us in three different directions.
The little Fiat shuddered as Mom shifted gears. “We’ll get there,” she said. “Remember our family motto? ‘Things could always be worse.’”
Now that I’d started talking again, I couldn’t hold back. “I thought it was ‘things are even worse than they seem.’” Though maybe Mom’s backwardly optimistic motto made sense. After all, things could be a lot worse for me. Instead of being in forced exile in the Turkish Riviera at this moment, I could be doing court-ordered community service. I could be in juvie.
A police car zoomed up behind us, lights flashing. Instinctively, I tensed and ducked. Which was ridiculous, since we’d been in Turkey for only a few hours, and I’d broken no laws.
"That’s the third police car we’ve seen!” Mom exclaimed as it passed.
“A good sign, right?” I said. “There must be some kind of civilization ahead. I mean, they have to be going somewhere.”
“Maybe.” Mom sounded doubtful. Then she sighed and chewed her lip. “God. What was I thinking, renting a car in Turkey?”
“Adventure,” I reminded her. “Life Experience. Fresh Perspective.”
“Right.” Mom tucked a lock of her bobbed hair behind one ear. “Still. If we’d gone with that nice man at the airport transfer service, I wouldn’t have gotten mixed up at the roadblock.”
“What happened to doing stuff without men?” I asked. “Sisters are doing it for themselves. Standing on their own two feet. Remember?” I hummed a few bars of the song Mom had blasted over and over after Dad had moved out of the house last month.
She smiled and hummed along with me. So I stopped humming, since I’d only meant to remind her of her mission. I wasn’t staging some mother-daughter bonding moment. Sure, we used to sing together, and laugh together. But now we were miles away from all that.
Mom stopped mid-hum. “Zan! Hold on!” she cried out, throwing her right arm in front of me. She hit the brakes. Hard.
I grabbed the handle above the window and squeezed my eyes shut. I heard weirdly inhuman wails outside the car. Sounds in no language I knew.
Mom took her safety-latch arm off me, and I slowly opened my eyes. A group of goats clopped by, baring their teeth and bleating at us as they crossed the road. Then they trotted up a hill that bristled with pine trees.
Mom sighed, and I released my death grip on the door handle. Then, seeing a blue stripe in the distance, I sat up straight. “Hey. Isn’t that water? Could that be Marmaris down there?”
“I think so,” said Mom. When we saw a Marmaris sign a moment later, she sped up as fast as the Fiat would let her. The road wound downhill, spiraling us toward the harbor like a nautilus seashell.
I kept my eyes trained on that blue stripe of water, afraid that if I looked away we’d veer off course again. Whenever I’d thought of Turkey in the past, my images were based on things I’d heard from my expat Aunt Jackie and her Turkish husband, Berk. The storybooks and presents they’d given me over the years had led me to imagine a land of soaring minarets and domed mosques, of belly dancers and samovars, of djinns and flying carpets. But on the road for the past couple hours, my senses had felt dulled by the crumbling landscape – the dirt, the dust, the rocks, only occasionally broken up by an olive grove, a forest, a village. Sometimes women working in fields—they were always women, for some reason—stared at our passing car.
Now, finally, we were heading toward color, and toward something interesting. The blue stripe grew in size and intensity as we neared. It practically vibrated.
I switched on the car radio. After flipping through scratchy stations, I found some electronica that sounded vaguely Turkish: stringed instruments I didn’t recognize wailing against a pulsing dance beat. It was kind of cool. I cranked it up.
Mom switched it off.
I glared at her. “What? It’s not enough you took my phone, now I can’t even listen to the radio?”
“I need to focus. This is extremely stressful driving.” The road had widened, and traffic had suddenly picked up, merging from unseen roads. Cars and huge trucks sped by, passing us on both sides, horns blaring. Mom sat rigid, eyes unblinking.
Rounding the next bend, the white, crumbling hills and scrubby trees offered up a fresh view, and I sucked in my breath sharply at the sight of masts of countless boats in a crescent-shaped harbor. The sun danced across the turquoise water, making it shimmer. And as we descended to the Port of Marmaris, I couldn’t stop staring at that glittering harbor, at the Mediterranean Sea, at that rich, impossible blue.