Black Menace: Scourge of an Apocalyptic World
by Kenneth J. Sousa

"Mik and Bek looked into each other’s eyes. No kuuuk was heard. Only a silent agreement passed between them. It stated; nothing will hurt our family."

Mik’s is the last egg of his moorhen brood to hatch. He is the runt of the bunch, and after his entire family is killed by an alligator, his brooding and anger only deepen. Luckily for Mik, a white heron named Sage takes him under his wing and teaches him about mindfulness and meditation. With Sage’s help, Mik is able to take control of his past and find a mate in the fiery Bek. However, there is a menace that threatens all the creatures who live on the lake. A terrible black alga is spreading. By controlling those it contacts, the alga uses a large bird named Greybeard and an army of Muscovy ducks to decimate the available food supply and attempt to dominate the lake. Although Mik and the other moorhens are small, they are fierce. With help from their friends, they will soon find themselves in a great battle for their home.

Sousa’s novel is part parable and part animal adventure. There are sections that focus on gaining self-control and choosing how to live life which read similar to a self-help book. In addition, there are sections more akin to George Orwell’s Animal Farm or even Brian Jacques Redwall. Readers familiar with basic literary theory will see strong notes of naturalism throughout the entirety. Sousa writes with confidence and authority, and the text has few grammatical errors. Between the nature of the content and the animal protagonists, it is slightly difficult to nail down the target audience. Most likely, the book will appeal the most to mature child readers and middle-grade readers who like animal adventures.

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