by Brenda Cooper
Cover Artist: Scott Grimando
Review by Mel Jacob
Prime Books Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9781607012634
Date: 23 August 2011 List Price $14.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Brenda Cooper offers an interesting premise in Mayan December with her speculations on the 2012 Mayan predictions. Her heroine, eleven-year-old Nixie Cameron and her mother Alice, an archeoastronomer, are caught up in events that unravel as the winter solstice approaches. The novel alternates between the present and the past. Nixie investigates an old ruin near the Yucatan resort where she and her mother are staying when she is transported to the past and meets a young Mayan man. He gives her a feather from his pet quetzal and she gives him a wad of paper money.
Her mother is frantic when she can't locate the GPS signal from a chip she had implanted in Nixie. When she finds her sitting atop an old temple ruin, she is relieved, but fails to believe Nixie's story about the young Mayan. The feather presents something she can't dismiss and Nixie's new sitter, Oriana, suggests Alice talk with a friend of hers, Ian, who claims to have seen the Mayans in drug induced trances. Alice agrees with reluctance. She finds Ian's story of the past difficult to accept.
A former classmate and friend of Alice's contacts her and asks her to lead a tour of Chichén Itzá for a meeting of international scientist. The friend is now the Science Advisor to the U.S. President. Alice accepts, hoping it will lead to more work.
Nixie again travels to Zama (modern Tulan), a seaside Mayan town, meets a young girl in tears, and swims with a giant sea turtle. She gives the girl a watch and the girl gives her a Mayan necklace. Alice is astounded at the beauty and value of the necklace, but finds Nixie's explanation difficult to accept. Nixie also has photos.
When Alice and Nixie share a dream about the young Mayans Nixie has befriended, Alice fears for her sanity. They witness an attack by rebels against the warriors traveling with the two Mayans. The rebels kill most of the party and wound the young man, but the two escape led by the man's totem, the black jaguar. In the dream, Nixie buries a bead the Mayan girl had given her.
A scientist, Alice is shaken by events, but finds herself beginning to believe Nixie who has never lied to her. Then Alice accompanies Nixie into the past where they find the bead from the dream. Alice has no explanation for it. With the solstice approaching, events are accelerating. What will happen and what changes will occur?
The novel is thought provoking and provides descriptions of the Mayan, their culture, and the rivalries that are tearing the culture apart. The ending presents some interesting possibilities. Cooper has a number of publishing credits with short stories and science fiction.