The hunt for a dinosaur skeleton buried in the Badlands, bitter rivalries, and a forbidden romance come together in this “fantastic” (The New York Times Book Review) novel that’s Romeo and Juliet meets Indiana Jones.
Somewhere in the Badlands, embedded deep in centuries-buried rock and sand, lies the skeleton of a massive dinosaur, larger than anything the late nineteenth century world has ever seen. Some legends call it the Black Beauty, with its bones as black as ebony, but to seventeen-year-old Samuel Bolt it’s the “rex,” the king dinosaur that could put him and his struggling, temperamental archaeologist father in the history books (and conveniently make his father forget he’s been kicked out of school), if they can just quarry it out.
But Samuel and his father aren’t the only ones after the rex. For Rachel Cartland this find could be her ticket to a different life, one where her loves of science and adventure aren’t just relegated to books and sitting rooms. Because if she can’t prove herself on this expedition with her professor father, the only adventures she may have to look forward to are marriage or spinsterhood.
As their paths cross and the rivalry between their fathers becomes more intense, Samuel and Rachel are pushed closer together. And with both eyeing the same prize, their budding romance seems destined to fail. But as danger looms on the other side of the hills, causing everyone’s secrets to come to light, Samuel and Rachel are forced to make a decision. Can they join forces to find their quarry—and with it a new life together—or will old enmities and prejudices keep them from both the rex and each other?
Samuel Bolt, son of short-fused fossil hunter Michael Bolt, dislikes school but excels as his father's assistant. When Samuel meets Rachel Cartland, daughter of preeminent Yale paleontologist Professor Cartland, he is struck by her intelligence and directness. Both Rachel and Samuel join their fathers on digs in the Wyoming Territory, competing for fossil finds and the elusive T. rex. As their friendship develops into romance, their camps are endangered by the local Sioux tribe after Rachel and her father remove relics from a burial site. Rachel, expected to marry and become a society wife, must decide whether to obey her father or leave everything for Samuel and a life of exploration. Based on the 19th-century Bone Wars, Oppel's (The Nest) story switches rapidly between the viewpoints of Samuel and Rachel, interspersed with the legend of the T. rex. While the politics of land ownership and the dynamics between native tribes and scientists is an absorbing and well-developed layer of the novel, the thrill of the hunt and the budding relationship between Rachel and Samuel take center stage. Ages 14 up.