A thrilling adventure filled with friendship, courage, and a brave cat that will face any danger on his way.
For Amy Spark, her family is what she treasures the most. On her father’s birthday, her mother, archeologist Elizabeth Spark, disappears without a trace. The mystery of her mother’s disappearance deepens when Nick Jones, a boy she never met before, turns up claiming his brother and Amy’s mother were working secretly on the search for an ancient temple, and now they are both missing.
Time is running fast, and even not believing in him, he’s the only hope she has. With her inseparable cat, Oscar, Amy joins Nick on a search deep into the forests of Mau Island, where the police have found a solid piece of evidence.
Thrown together by chance, Amy and Nick will have to join forces to face the dangers and obstacles in their way on a thrilling journey with breathtaking surprises.
What they discover will change everything, but they will soon find out they are not alone in this search.
Targeted Age Group:: 9 to 12 years old
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
“The Eighth Chamber” is my first middle grade book and inspiration came from my childhood and the places I've visited around the world. When I was a child I loved to read adventure books, like “The Three Musketeers” by Alexandre Dumas and “ Treasure Island” by Robert Louis Stevenson.
My goal was to write a book that I'd love to read, full of adventure, a hint of mystery and brave characters. The idea to have elements of ancient Egypt history came from the years I lived as in Egypt and how amazed I was when I visited all the ancient sites and fell in love with this incredible civilization.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
The first character I've created was Oscar. I love cats and I had clearly in my mind this brave black cat very close to his beloved human. He follows Amy everywhere and, in a way, is the superhero of the story. Amy and Nick came later. I loved to write those characters. They work so well together, and it was fun to write about them.
On the way out of the school library, the dark sky reminded Amy how lucky she was her mother had insisted on putting the raincoat inside her backpack. But the gray, drizzly afternoon could not take away the smile on Amy’s face, not today. The mid-term school break had just started, and for the following couple of weeks, she would do nothing but sleep, read, and relax.
With her helmet on, she climbed up on her mountain bike and pedaled away from the school. The rain fell harder as she crossed the road to her street. A loud crack of thunder crashed in her ears, making her lose her balance and almost falling into the small bushes on the left side of the street. She gripped the handlebars tight to recover the bike's control and kept her way onward.
When she finally arrived in front of her house, she rode her bike straight onto the front porch and parked it beside the old rocking chair. Amy shook her backpack to clear the rainwater from it and opened the front pocket digging for her fluffy black cat keychain. The moment she slid the key in the front door lock a soft meow echoed behind her. She turned and looked down with a smile on her face.
“Oscar, what are you doing outside?” she asked, petting the cat’s head.
As she opened the door, the cat rushed into the dark house, straight to his food bowl in the kitchen.
Amy dropped her wet backpack on the floor, turned on the lights, and closed the door behind them.
“Mom, I’m home,” she shouted, placing the keychain on the entrance table. There was no answer from her mother.
She took off her soaked denim jacket, her sneakers, and her socks. On the way to the kitchen her phone beeped. It’s probably Mom sending a message she’ll be late because she's shopping for food on her way home from work, Amy thought. If she stopped at Parker’s grocery instead of the supermarket, she'll definitely spend at least an extra fifteen minutes listening to Mrs. Parker's fantastic stories.
Before going up to change her wet clothes, Amy decided it would be better to first get the box with the birthday decorations in the garage. As her mother was running late, she'd better start decorating the living room for her father's birthday without her. She opened the foldable ladder and climbed up to grab the box, as it was sitting high above on a shelf. From atop the ladder, she looked down and spotted one of her mother’s white lab coats crumpled in one corner of the garage, near the main door. With the birthday box in her hands, through the garage window, she saw the daily laundry service truck sitting parked in front of her neighbor's house. She climbed down as quickly as the box in her hands allowed her to, and placed the decorations carefully on the floor. Wanting to catch the laundry truck before it moved on, she hastily grabbed her mom's dirty lab coat from the ground and raised the garage door. To her luck, her father had, once again, forgotten to lock it.
Outside, she shouted for the laundry guy to wait, but he couldn't hear her. The rain had slowed a bit, so she decided to run and hand it to him before he left. On the way to the truck, holding the coat in her arms, she slipped on an empty plastic bottle sitting on the slick lawn. The wet grass cushioned the impact of the fall. Amy stood up without a single scratch, but the lab coat was now even filthier.
The laundry guy saw the incident and rushed over to help, with a sorry look on his face. “Are you OK?”
“Yeah, I guess,” said Amy brushing the dirt and grass off her shirt and pants.
She handed him the coat and realized with a pang of guilt that now, more than ever, it needed a professional dry clean.
Amy came back inside the house and went straight upstairs to take a quick shower and change her wet and dirty clothes. Back downstairs in the kitchen, she opened the upper kitchen cabinet and stood on the tips of her toes to get a bag of chips, ripping it open on the way back to the living room. Her wet hair, drawn back into a ponytail, dripping water all over the carpet. Amy sat with crossed legs on the sofa, but before she could turn on the TV, she heard another beep from the phone inside her backpack. She walked to the entrance, unzipped it and pulled her phone out. A message from her father puzzled her:
Papa: Hey sweetie, I’m at the police station now. I know this might sound upsetting, but I'll explain everything to you when I get home.
A chill ran up her spine. What on Earth was her father doing at the police station on his birthday? Amy tried to phone her mother, but the call went straight to voice mail. With trembling fingers, Amy texted her mom, hoping to receive a reply. But the texting app showed that her mom didn’t even receive the message.
Amy’s mom worked as the Antiques Supervisor for the city’s History Museum. Her job was the reason they had moved to the island a year ago. She had a lot of work and sometimes she stayed at her office even after the museum had closed, especially now that the opening of a new Exhibition was close. But she had promised Amy to leave work at noon today, so she would have plenty of time to pick up the cake Amy had ordered, and be home in time to prepare dinner for the birthday celebration.
Maybe someone stole Dad’s car or his wallet and Mom's with him at the police station, Amy thought, trying to convince herself that it was nothing serious and that they would be back home sometime soon. But an uneasy feeling of doubt tossed in her stomach.
Amy sat back on the sofa, phone in one hand and remote control in the other, zapping randomly between the channels. The German cuckoo clock on the wall struck six pm. Along with the cuckoo bird leaning forward flapping its wings, she heard a metallic clang coming from the front door. Amy jumped off the sofa. As her dad opened the door, she threw her arms around him.
“What happened Dad? Are you OK?”
He hugged her close, as if this was the best moment of his day. Taking a deep breath, he gently removed her arms from around his body and stepped aside.
"I thought Mom was with you?” she said, noticing that he arrived alone.
“There’s something I have to tell you.”
By the tone of his voice, she figured that something bad had happened.
Their eyes met; he took her hands in his.
“Your mother has gone missing, Amy.” He paused. “They called me from the museum this morning to ask me if she was sick as she didn’t show up to her morning meeting. They’ve tried to call her several times, but her phone seems to be off. I’ve searched for her all afternoon around the town, asked everyone. But no one has seen or heard from her. I’ve been to the hospital, but she was not admitted there. There was nowhere else to check, so I went to the police station to file a missing person’s report.”
A surge of fear filled Amy’s heart. Tears rolled down her face.
“Two police officers have come home with me to look for evidence inside the house,” he said looking over his shoulder at a uniformed man and a woman standing near a police vehicle outside. “I’ve told them I needed to talk to you first.” He squeezed Amy’s hands. “Everything will be fine. Your mom will be back home soon.” His last words felt as if he were trying more to convince himself as much as Amy that this would be true.
The two officers walked up to the front door.
The woman was tall with cold eyes and a pale face, the kind police always seem to have when delivering bad news. She stepped inside the house first.
“We promise to do our best to find your mom.” Her emotionless words didn’t reassure Amy. “I just need to ask you a few questions now.”
Amy stood beside her dad while the younger male officer looked around the house. The woman took a notebook and a pen from her jacket’s pocket. Then she gestured to the couch in the middle of the living room. They all seated themselves and the female officer started asking Amy the usual questions (to which she probably already knew the answers) while her partner walked around opening drawers and taking pictures of everything with a small camera.
Amy thought it all looked like an end-of-the-year middle school play with bad actors.
“Can I have a look inside the garage?” the young male officer asked looking at Amy’s father.
He nodded in agreement, opening the garage door with the remote control in his pocket.
Amy answered all the personal questions with a simple yes or no, looking out of the corner of her eyes at the young male officer as he left the room. After a few minutes, she met the female officer's eyes with her own and interrupted the questions.
“What exactly are you expecting to find here?” Amy asked with a serious tone, just as the male officer finished searching and returned.
The woman took a deep breath and met her partner’s eyes.
“We need to exclude the possibility that your mother could have run away for a particular reason.”
The words hit Amy like a slap in the face.
“Run away? Of course, she didn't run away.” She stood up, her voice rising with the sharp edge of anger. "You should be out there looking for her, instead of being here, wasting time. Here you'll find nothing but a loving home. Nobody would ever run away from a loving home.” Tears welled in her chestnut eyes; she blinked to keep them from falling.
“I believe that’s all for today, officers,” her dad said, putting his arms around Amy's shoulders.
“Dad, can I go to my room now?” Amy asked, with tears rolling down her cheeks.
Her father nodded.
Amy ran upstairs to her room, jumped on her bed, and placed her head on the pillow. She sobbed.
Oscar came to her side and rubbed his fluffy head against her arms in a sweet attempt to comfort his two-legged friend.
From her bed she heard the police car leave and her father's footsteps coming upstairs. He knocked at her door before stepping inside. She didn’t look at him as she still couldn't stop the tears from falling. But as his gentle hands touched her wild golden brown hair, she turned to face him.
He smiled at her with a sad look, still pushing his fingers through her cropped hair. “She'll be back home soon, sweetie.” His eyes were watery behind his glasses.
She just looked up at him, still sobbing quietly, without saying a word. “Are you hungry? I can order something for us.”
Amy just shook her head.
“OK. I'm not hungry either.” He forced a smile. “Now, let’s try to sleep a little. We had a hard day, and we need to stay strong. Everything will be fine.” He kissed her forehead.
With tears still running down her face, she sat up and hugged him hard.
“Love you, Dad.”
“Love you too, sweetie.”
That night, he left her bedroom door open, but Amy didn’t complain. She stayed in bed, with Oscar by her side, thinking about where her mother might be, or if she was hurt, or… She shook her head, putting the palms of her hands against her face, trying hard to clear her mind of negative thoughts.
That night, neither Amy nor her father slept much. Their minds drifted far away, their hearts missing a piece.
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