Unfortunately, the first thing that stands out about this book are the formatting mistakes. Perhaps it is only the Kindle edition but there were copious editing errors--sentences cut off in the middle and starting in the next paragraph, dialogue sometimes having a new paragraph for each speaker and sometimes not, missing quotation marks, and sentences lacking periods. Every time that I as a reader encountered one of these mistakes it took me out of the magic of the story.
I like the main protaganist. She's smart, she's sassy and funny, she's a little too curious for her own good, and she loves adventure. Young adult novels could use more Lizbuthann-style main characters. While this story is billed as a mystery, I feel that it falls more into the historical adventure genre.
Unfortunately, the episodic nature of Lizbuthann's adventures slows the story down. Lizbuthann gets polio--and we hear about it for three pages, and it never really comes up again. There are several interesting elements like that I would have loved to hear more about but are merely mentioned once and dropped.
While I enjoyed the idea of the setting as the lush forests of Haiti, the story was sadly lacking in locale description or setting description in general. While we are treated to step-by-step descriptions of what the heroine actually does, it lacks any sort grounding in the wider surroundings. It makes for a much weaker action scene when Lizbuthann is, for example, fording the river in small dam-building machinery, when I can't picture what the dam looks like, what the machinery looks like or even have a clear idea of what the machinery does.
2 stars (3 without the formatting issues)