Book Review: 7 Riddles to Nowhere

In her latest novel, 7 Riddles to Nowhere, author AJ Cattapan takes the reader on an intriguing and inspiring journey through the streets and churches of Chicago, as the young protagonist and his friends seek to win a fortune and save their school.


Most seventh graders would have other plans for the money. (Mine would probably want to add a trampoline park and swimming pool to the backyard.) Kam Boyd is hardly your average middle schooler, however, and when he’s presented with the opportunity to win a fortune, he’s determined to succeed in order to save his small school, which is threatened due to financial struggles.

Kam’s only recently moved to the school, but this selective mute had  hoped for a fresh start.  He has already become attached to his warm and generous teacher and several classmates who have befriended him despite the fact that he can’t speak to adults outside of his home, which means he barely talks at school.

Winning the contest is no small feat. Kam and his friends must find the answers to seven riddles, bravely traveling the streets of Chicago. They must also compete with other, less honorable teams, most notably the school bully and his sorry lot of friends. The chase takes them through beautiful city churches, where the clues and answers are hidden in architecture and artwork.

I found myself unable to put the book down as it neared its conclusion. Kam is an incredibly lovable character, and I enjoyed rooting him and his friends on as they strove to win the contest against all odds. There were beautiful lessons in church doctrine and history delicately interwoven into the tale, with the sound message that, “where your treasure is, there also will your heart lie.”

While Seven Riddles to Nowhere is a middle grade novel, I’d recommend it to any child ages 10 and older, and even a younger precocious reader. Every school library should keep this book on their shelves, especially those at Catholic schools. It would also be an excellent addition to school curricula, as an aid to teach tolerance, generosity, courage, and the universality of the Church.

Seven Riddles to Nowheres official release date is August 31, and author AJ Cattapan is holding  a Facebook launch party to celebrate. She’s giving away lots of wonderful prizes, including a signed copy of my book, A Single Bead, with a rosary blessed by the pope, an Amazon gift card, and more. Follow this link to join the party and have a chance at winning. Please tell her that Stephanie Engelman sent you!

I received an advance copy of this novel from the author in exchange for my honest review.

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4 thoughts on “Book Review: 7 Riddles to Nowhere”

  1. Hello Stephanie! In your Amazon bio, you mentioned your love for reading as a child. I have an 11-yr-old daughter who is a voracious reader. (reads at a much higher level than her age). What books would you recommend that you read around this age.? She loves action/adventure (loves Raymond Arroyo’s “will Wilder” “nancy Drew” series as well as the “mandie” & “Trixie Belden” series. Btw, my daughter LOVED your book!! She devoured it in 1 day!!
    Thank you so much & be assured of our family’s prayers for
    you, your husband & family!

    1. Geanna, I’m so glad your daughter enjoyed A Single Bead! I think when I was 11 I was reading Judy Blume and the like, and I must confess that, as I got older, I was not a strong Christian so my reading selections were not the same books I would recommend for kids today! There’s a great group on Facebook and Instagram called Books for Catholic Teens, and I would suggest joining those groups to see lots of great recommendations. I have a ten year old precocious reader, and I have given her The Locket’s Secret by K. Kelley Heyne, Awakening by Claudia Cangilla, and Erin’s Ring by Laura Pearl (review coming soon!). When she gets older I will definitely give her AJ Cattapan’s Angelhood, as well. In general, I’ve found my publisher, Pauline Teens, books to be reliably good. I haven’t read them all, but Treachery and Truth looks great and is very appropriate for this time of year.

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