Tunnels. By Roderick Gordon and Brian Williams. Chicken House/Scholastic. $17.99.
Medusa Jones. By Ross Collins. Arthur A. Levine/Scholastic. $16.99.
A grand underground adventure in the manner of The Underland Chronicles – but written even more stylishly and packed with more genuine terror – Tunnels is a real thrill ride of a book despite the fact that, at the end, it cheats readers by refusing to button things up (thus guaranteeing a sequel). This is the first novel by two British friends – Roderick Gordon is a former investment banker, Brian Williams an installation artist – and it is packed with drama, a twist-and-turn-filled plot, and a genuine sense of menace. It is the story of 14-year-old Will Burrows and his best friend,
Medusa Jones is a first novel, too, but Ross Collins already has plenty of picture-book credits as both author and illustrator. And the pictures are part of the fun in this highly amusing short novel – but only part. The book takes elements of Greek mythology and turns them inside-out, placing them in a family-and-school setting in which the snake-haired young heroine is nothing at all like her grandmother, who “is insane and lives in a cave” and used to have a habit of turning postmen to stone. True, young Medusa, being a Gorgon, can turn people to stone, but her parents forbid it (“it’s not the polite thing to do, dear”) and insist she find another way to handle the constant teasing she receives from the Champions. They are three really irritating, really good-looking kids – Perseus, Theseus and Cassandra – and they constantly mock Medusa for her snaky head, her choice of best friend (Chiron, a centaur), and even her puppy (the adorable Cerberus, all three of whose heads are cute as can be). Eventually, Medusa and Chiron and their friend