★★★★ Koolura and the Mayans is the third entry in author Michael Thal’s young adult series about a girl named Koolura with mystical powers. Koolura and her friend Leila are on vacation in Mexico City, where Koolura’s father is getting re-married, when the girls unwittingly stumble upon a derelict relic in an old Mayan tomb that whisks them thousands of years into the past. There’s just one problem: she doesn’t know how to get back! Now, stranded in history with her best friend, Koolura must hide her abilities from an alien race known as the Aquari, who have subjugated the native population for nefarious reasons. This Mayan mishap could end up costing Koolura much more than a few extra days in Mexico!
A unique hybrid of science fiction, folklore, and pure fantasy, Koolura and the Mayans is a fun romp through time and space. Readers do not have to have read the first two books in the series in order to keep pace with the plot, but if you enjoy Thal’s tale here, take comfort in knowing there are two more books about Koolura to devour. As with any story this brief, readers might find themselves wishing there was a bit more meat to occupy their appetites, especially during one short journey which finds Koolura jetting off to an unknown planet in search of a device that could help the Aquari leave Earth. Still, it must be said that Koolura is a charming and unpredictable protagonist. The result is that readers will simply have no idea where the story will take them next—and that feeling is utterly magical.