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Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
Ordeal at the Old Ivy Oak is a young adult coming-of-age novel by John Funke. Jerry and Benny Banks are heading out for their first solo camping trip. Their father, who usually accompanied them, felt it was time they went out on their own while he vacationed with his wife. After promising repeatedly to be careful and take care of his younger brother, Benny, Jerry sets out on the road, but he doesn't go to their traditional camping spot as he promised his folks. Jerry's got a better idea: a secluded lake that he's been to with some of his pals for late-night parties. On the way there, Benny and Jerry notice a number of cop cars and then a stopped car with a man waving them down. The man points to his companion who is lying on the ground and begs them to take him to the hospital. Benny, the more cerebral of the two brothers, offers to call the cops for them and is hesitant to allow them into the car, but Jerry, the good-natured and somewhat more innocent jock, opens the doors and lets the man and his suddenly well friend into the car. It seems the police were hunting for escaped prisoners, and Jerry's private camping area is the perfect hide-out for them.
John Funke's thriller, Ordeal at the Old Ivy Oak, is a well-crafted and highly entertaining novel that will appeal both to the targeted age-group and many adults as well. The plot is credible, and the action never flags. There's a cat-and-mouse struggle set up between the captors and Benny, the younger of the hostages and a remarkable tactician in the making, that's a lot of fun to watch.
I really enjoyed Ordeal at the Old Ivy Oak and would love to see a sequel with further adventures of Benny and Jerry, or at the least, more fiction from author John Funke.