About 25 years ago I read a book that for years I've tried to find. I remember nothing of the title or author, but I do remember the plot. My last question about a novel worked out so well I thought I'd try again.

A boy moves and has to live with his grandparents I think? And as he's exploring the outskirts of the new little town he's living in he stumbles across a cave, and in the cave buried in the sand he finds this kind of Native American pueblo type place but at a miniature scale. He thinks it's a model but at some point he comes to the conclusion that it was a real town of little people.

He has trouble at school and I remember at one point some of the bullies from school find and kind of threaten to destroy the place.

Any one read this one?

A few other odd details I remember:

He either bought, or was given a derringer, where the safety was a jewel in the handle of the gun, which at one point saves him as someone that tries to shoot him doesn't know how to deactivate the safety.

There was a "jail" or...cage of some sort in this miniature town made from rattlesnake fangs, which I think continued to have poison and which scratched a kid and nearly killed him.


I found it. It was called Through the Hidden Door, by Rosemary Wells, first published in 1987.

Before I posted this question, I hadn't bothered merely Googling. I didn't, because I have many times over the years and never found anything. After posting the question I decided I probably should have tried again. Eventually I searched for "book about a boy who finds a cave with a miniature native american ruin" and one of the results was the goodreads.com link I posted above. As soon as I saw the title of the book I knew that was it.

As can happen when you read a book as a kid, the disturbing parts of this story didn't seem that odd. Now, when I think how harsh it was, combined with kind of a whimsical fantasy element like finding a cave of little people ruins, it seems odd that I liked it so much. Many of the reviews on that page note that parts of the book are disturbing, and it is more of a book about bullying and being bullied than fantasy.

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