Zach Bonroy is a thirteen year old boy thrown into an adventure when his father is killed by a ghostly girl. Zach is determined not to leave his home in New Orleans, but a supernatural event convinces him to leave with his Great Aunt Astoria, who lives on the grounds of a haunted plantation.There he meets Perry James, a boy who never grows old, and a Nutria called Kekaju. Thanks to the piece of the Gris-gris stone that Kekaju carries, Zach is able to understand the animals of the swamp. Together, they go on an adventure to find the remaining broken pieces of the Gris-gris stone. Will Zach and Kekaju manage to get all the pieces, or will Cronie and Old Croc stop them and get the pieces for themselves?This is a fantastic tale for middle school children/young teens! It's full of mystery, action and adventure. I loved the way Robert Sweeting has written this book. It has an almost poetic flow to it. However, I did struggle a little bit with the Cajun inflection of the dialogue. I was not brought up in Louisiana, and had trouble relating the "accent" in my mind. This is my own shortcomings I speak of, I am not trying to detract from the excellent writing of the author; Other readers may not have the same issue.I loved the interaction between Zach and the rest of the cast of characters. Kekaju is a Nutria, a rat like animal that lives in the swamp. However, he has a small piece of the Gris-gris stone, which enables him to speak to, and understand, humans. When he meets Zach, he is hiding from Cronie, a particularly vicious alligator. However, there is an even more evil character living in this swamp, Old Croc. He wants all the pieces of the Gris-gris stone, of which there are three, so that he may rule the whole swamp and control the humans by turning them into zombies!There are some really grisly scenes that the children will love, and made me think "Oh, gross!". However, they are not overly offensive and convey the menace of Old Croc and Cronie perfectly. I think I would be petrified to meet these two characters! They scared me!I am now looking forward to reading the next story in this series, as it looks like there is more trouble in store for Zach and Kekaju! I recommend this book if your child is into mystery, action/adventure, ghosts, zombies, ghouls or talking animals!