In the Bookcase


Book Review: Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold

Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold Kitty Hawk and the Curse of
the Yukon Gold

Book #1 of the Kitty Hawk Flying Detective Agency Series

written by Iain Reading

270 pages, youth fiction
published in 2012

5 Star Rating 5 Star Rating 5 Star Rating 5 Star Rating 5 Star Rating

My Review...

Kitty Hawk, a high school graduate from a fishing village in British Columbia, has a plan for a thrilling trip to Alaska. She wants nothing else than to spend her first summer out of school researching the local humpback whales along the coastline of Juneau, Alaska. And she aims to get there by solo-flying in her very own (trusty) De Havilland Beaver seaplane. She claims she's been flying since the age of 4 (that's what comes of having a seaplane pilot for a dad). By using her plane, she intends to scour the northern Pacific waters in search of groups of whales that can't be spotted from shore or by boat.

Thus, the exciting trip is all planned out, and Kitty Hawk is in for a wild ride -- except it turns into a ride that she wasn't anticipating, as it doesn't really take place in the air. Not able to just "stick with the facts" of her whale research project, other things pique her interest in Alaska, like the legend being passed around town of stolen gold. (Yes, actual gold that was was originally mined in the Klondike Gold Rush of the 1890s, hidden for decades, and eventually lost.) Who wouldn't want to dig up as much information as possible about the long-lost treasure? Spotting a mysterious thing or two, Kitty puts a few ideas together and soon starts believing she's on the trail of gold thieves. Honing in on her inner Nancy Drew, she treks through the woods at night, alone, to see if she can prove it. Ready to join her?

There are SO MANY things about "Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold" that appeal to me. First, the girl is a pilot. (Come on, how many teenagers do you know that can fly a plane?) She's got guts. Let's see -- next up, Kitty desires to learn more about the world by participating in scientific research projects with college students and fellow whale watchers. She's dedicated. Then we hit the historical aspect of all the old tales of the Yukon, even filtering in some refreshing conversations about the famous authors who participated in the gold rush (such as Jack London and others). She's well-read and enjoys learning. Another topic I immensely enjoy in this book is the maritime element; the fate of the Clara Nevada ship and its passengers is well-integrated into the epic Klondike tale. Like me, Kitty gets intrigued with all these details too.

As shown in this book, the author, Iain Reading, knows how to weave a modern story in with historical facts, to create a truly believable plot. Digging up history this way is pretty cool. He has created a completely cohesive plot out of famous people and events from the past, mixed with solid knowledge of modern life in the Alaskan/Canadian region.

NOTE to the discerning reader & parents: Because of the readers associated with my blog, I wanted to express a couple things about the content. Some minor language is used throughout the book. Also there are some slight mentions of drinking alcohol.

I truly love the sense of adventure and the exciting storyline in this 1st book from the Kitty Hawk Flying Detective Agency Series, and I look forward to reading more of them.

Kitty Hawk series

Thanks to the author and Book Publicity Services for the free book.

P.S. See this review on Goodreads and Amazon.

Publisher's Book Summary:

Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold is the thrilling first installment in a new young adult series of adventure mystery stories by Iain Reading. This first book of the Kitty Hawk Flying Detective Agency Series introduces Kitty Hawk, an intrepid teenage pilot with her own De Havilland Beaver seaplane and a nose for mystery and intrigue. A cross between Amelia Earhart, Nancy Drew and Pippi Longstocking, Kitty is a quirky young heroine with boundless curiosity and a knack for getting herself into all kinds of precarious situations. 

 After leaving her home in the western Canadian fishing village of Tofino to spend the summer in Alaska studying humpback whales, Kitty finds herself caught up in an unforgettable adventure involving stolen gold, devious criminals, ghostly shipwrecks, and bone-chilling curses. Kitty's adventure begins with the lingering mystery of a sunken ship called the Clara Nevada. As the plot continues to unfold, this spirited story will have readers anxiously following every twist and turn as they are swept along through the history of the Klondike Gold Rush to a suspenseful final climatic chase across the rugged terrain of Canada's Yukon.

Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold is a perfect book to fire the imagination of readers of all ages. Filled with fascinating and highly Google-able locations and history this book will inspire anyone to learn and experience more for themselves. 

There are currently four books in the Kitty Hawk Flying Detective Agency Series: Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold (book 1), Kitty Hawk and the Hunt for Hemingway's Ghost (book 2), Kitty Hawk and the Icelandic Intrigue (book 3), and Kitty Hawk and the Tragedy of the RMS Titanic (book 4). Each book can be read as a standalone.

"In the Kitty Hawk Flying Detective Agency Series the heroine finds herself in a new geographic location in each book. The series will eventually have a total of 13 books in it (maybe more) and her flight around the world will be completed in the end," says Iain. "The books are sequential but one could definitely read any of the later ones before reading the earlier ones."

About the Author:
Iain Reading is passionate about Root Beer, music, and writing. He is Canadian, but currently resides in the Netherlands working for the United Nations.
Iain has published 4 books in the Kitty Hawk Flying Detective Agency Series (Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold, Kitty Hawk and the Hunt for Hemingway's Ghost, Kitty Hawk and the Icelandic Intrigue, and Kitty Hawk and the Tragedy of the RMS Titanic). He is currently working on the 5th book in the series. For more information, go to
Iain is also the author of The Wizards of Waterfire Series. The first book in the series The Guild of the Wizards of Waterfire was published in April 2014.
Connect with Iain on Twitter and Goodreads.


Back Where The Entire Adventure Began

As soon as the engine began to sputter, I knew that I was in real trouble. Up until then, I had somehow managed to convince myself that there was just something wrong with the fuel gauges. After all, how could I possibly have burnt through my remaining fuel as quickly as the gauges seemed to indicate? It simply wasn't possible. But with the engine choking and gasping, clinging to life on the last fumes of aviation fuel, it was clear that when the fuel gauges read, "Empty," they weren't kidding around.
The lightning strike that took out my radio and direction-finding gear hadn't worried me all that much. (Okay, I admit it worried me a little bit.) It wasn't the first time that this had happened to me, and besides, I still had my compasses to direct me to where I was going. But I did get a little bit concerned when I found nothing but open ocean as far my eyes could see at precisely the location where I fully expected to find tiny Howland Island—and its supply of fuel for the next leg of my journey—waiting for me. The rapidly descending needles on my fuel gauges made me even more nervous as I continued to scout for the island, but only when the engine began to die did I realize that I really had a serious problem on my hands.
The mystery of the disappearing fuel.
The enigma of the missing island.
The conundrum of what do I do now?
"Exactly," the little voice inside my head said to me in one of those annoying 'I-told-you-so' kind of voices. "What do you do now?"
"First, I am going to stay calm," I replied. "And think this through."
"You'd better think fast," the little voice said, and I could almost hear it tapping on the face of a tiny wristwatch somewhere up there in my psyche. "If you want to make it to your twentieth birthday, that is. Don't forget that you're almost out of fuel."
"Thanks a lot," I replied. "You're a big help."
Easing forward with the control wheel I pushed my trusty De Havilland Beaver into a nosedive. Residual fuel from the custom-made fuel tanks at the back of the passenger cabin dutifully followed the laws of gravity and spilled forward, accumulating at the front and allowing the fuel pumps to transfer the last remaining drops of fuel into the main forward belly tank. This maneuver breathed life back into the engine and bought me a few more precious minutes to ponder my situation.
"Mayday, mayday, mayday," I said, keying my radio transmitter as I leveled my flight path out again. "This is aircraft Charlie Foxtrot Kilo Tango Yankee, calling any ground station or vessel hearing this message, over."
I keyed the mic off and listened intently for a reply. Any reply. Please? But there was nothing. There was barely even static. My radio was definitely fried.
It was hard to believe that it would all come down to this. After the months of preparation and training. After all the adventures that I'd had, the friends I'd made, the beauty I'd experienced, the differences and similarities I'd discovered from one culture to the next and from one human being to the next. All of this in the course of my epic flight around the entire world.
Or I should say, "my epic flight almost around the entire world," in light of my current situation.
And the irony of it was absolutely incredible. Three-quarters of a century earlier the most famous female pilot of them all had disappeared over this exact same endless patch of Pacific Ocean on her own quest to circle the globe. And she had disappeared while searching for precisely the same island that was also eluding me as I scanned the horizon with increasing desperation.
"Okay," I thought to myself. "Just be cool and take this one step at a time to think the situation through." I closed my eyes and focused on my breathing, slowing it down and reining in the impulse to panic. Inside my head, I quickly and methodically replayed every flight that I'd ever flown. Every emergency I'd ever faced. Every grain of experience that I had accumulated along the long road that had led me to this very moment. Somewhere in there was a detail that was the solution to my current predicament. I was sure of it. And all I had to do was find it.
Maybe the answer to my current situation lay somewhere among the ancient temples of Angkor in Cambodia? Or in the steamy jungles of east Africa? Or inside the towering pyramids of Giza? Or among the soaring minarets of Sarajevo? Or on the emerald rolling hills and cliffs of western Ireland? Or on the harsh and rocky lava fields of Iceland?
Wherever the answer was, it was going to have to materialize quickly, or another female pilot (me) would run the risk of being as well-known throughout the world as Amelia Earhart. And for exactly the same reason.
"It's been a good run at least," the little voice inside my head observed, turning oddly philosophical as the fuel supplies ran critically low. "You've had more experiences on this journey around the world than some people do in their entire lifetime."
"That's it!" I thought.
Maybe the answer to all this lies even further back in time? All the way back to the summer that had inspired me to undertake this epic journey in the first place. All the way back to where North America meets the Pacific Ocean—the islands and glaciers and whales of Alaska.
All the way back to where this entire adventure began.

Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold


  1. I read this aloud to two of my children. My son LOVED it! I appreciated it for a lot of the same things you mentioned about it. We're hoping to start the second book soon.

  2. Lilly Anne2/10/2015

    Sounds intriguing! I've been hearing about this series for a while now, and might give it a try.