Palo Duro

A Young Adult Thriller

Young Adult - Paranormal
250 Pages
Reviewed on 11/11/2020
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Lex Allen for Readers' Favorite

Rachel Hernandez, an anthropology student at West Texas A&M University, has discovered something that hasn't been seen in nearly two hundred years: in the depths of Palo Duro, a fabled cave full of Native American carvings and paintings. Shortly after her discovery, she vanishes without a trace, leaving only one clue—her boot prints in the trail that leads to the caves. Rachel's twin brother Ricky and her best friend Jordan seek answers in her disappearance, and what they find may be the biggest cover-up in all of history.

Author Andrew J. Brandt’s latest Young Adult thriller, Palo Duro, is a prime example of entertaining, nail-biting, page-turning fiction built on a foundation of verisimilitude. A sense of reality in fiction separates the authors from the writing hacks. The setting is a real place in the Texas panhandle. Every character from the park rangers to the sheriff to the college kids that carry the bulk of the tale are absolutely true to life. Brandt keeps the pace up and the reader enthralled with a writing style that doesn’t suffer long narratives full of minutiae that drag down the pace and add no value to the storyline. The rule “write what you know” works best when that knowledge is combined with a fertile imagination capable of linking reality to fantasy, conjecture to truth, and the mundane to the supernatural; Andrew Brandt is a master of the art. Fans of anthropology, suspense, the supernatural, mystery, and history rolled into an exciting thriller will love Palo Duro—guaranteed!

Jack Magnus

Palo Duro is a paranormal adventure thriller for young and new adults written by Andrew J. Brandt. Rachel Hernandez was excited, more so than her twin, Ricky, had ever seen her. The legendary caves that most people didn’t even think existed were there -- she was sure of it. Rachel had found a previously unexplored opening into the cave systems, one that was on private land abutting the parklands. Rachel showed her brother a photocopy of what appeared to be an ancient map. Rachel was going there that afternoon, and she assured Ricky that Jordan, her roommate and fellow student of anthropology, was coming along with her, much to his relief. But Rachel never got back to the dorms that afternoon or evening, and when Ricky checked with Jordan, she explained that her backed-up studies made her turn down Rachel’s offer of an adventure. Where was Rachel? By late that evening, even with reinforcements from the Park Rangers, Rachel had not been found. And the footsteps they had found and tracked disappeared at one point. It was as though she had vanished from the face of the earth.

Andrew J. Brandt’s Palo Duro is a fast-paced and well-written story about a real canyon that is rich in anthropological history. I loved learning about Palo Duro and have added the area to my list of places to visit and hike in the future. Brandt’s story kept me on edge and engaged throughout my reading experience, and I enjoyed following along as Ricky, Jordan, Dr. Errington, and the Park Rangers interacted while searching for Rachel. There’s also enough tech stuff to keep techies involved, and the paranormal aspects of the story are thought-provoking and well-presented. I had a grand time reading Palo Duro and will be looking for other novels by this author. Palo Duro is most highly recommended.

Tiffany Ferrell

Rachael and her twin brother Ricky could not be more different. While Ricky is into computers and technology at their college in Texas, his sister Rachael took the anthropological path, searching for native civilizations that were wiped out when Europeans came. She tells her brother and a friend that she had discovered cave paintings that hadn’t been found in nearly five hundred years. Rachael heads back to the site to take photos and look around, but she never returns. Her disappearance brings Rangers and the police to the panhandle to search for the missing girl. They find her jacket torn to shreds in the river, but Rachael was never found. Four months later, Ricky doesn’t feel closure. It had been months with no evidence and everyone was beginning to forget the girl who disappeared in the canyon ... until they receive a call from one of the rangers saying that her phone was found!

I thought Palo Duro was a wonderful read full of mystery and history. I loved the plot that Andrew J Brandt created and it kept me on my toes till the very end. I loved the whole cave premise that could be a portal to another time. The characters were very well written and fleshed out. Ricky was very relatable as was Jordan, but I think I enjoyed Rachael’s character the most. I loved the mystery that followed her disappearance and where she went. I also felt like I learned something that I didn’t know too much about before and that was about the canyon and panhandle in Texas. Overall, I thought Palo Duro was a great book and I will definitely be looking for more of Brandt’s work in the future.