Once again, evildoers are afoot in Stonetown, and once again, the four members of the Mysterious Benedict Society come to the rescue. In this case, the dark plot involves an actual blackout, but our intrepid quartet refuses to be stymied by mere technical difficulty. To set things right, Reynie, Kat, Sticky, and Constance must surmount numerous obstacles and face their worst fears. Intelligently written; rip-roaring action; brain-teasing puzzles.
The Society is back. In the months since their daring rescue of Mr. Benedict and Number Two in The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey (Megan Tingley Books/Little, Brown, 2008/VOYA April 2008), the foursome have been kept under protective lock and key. Evil Mr. Curtain and his treacherous Ten Men are still on the lam, whereabouts unknown, and no one is safe. When word comes that the Whisperer is to be moved out of Mr. Benedict's control, they know that Mr. Curtain will strike again. Will Reynie, Kate, Sticky, and Constance be ready when he does? As with the other series books, readers receive both an adventurous ride and a heart-warming story of friendship and family. The characters continue to learn more about themselves and each other, discovering new strengths, facing weaknesses, and grappling with the tensions of so much time spent together and fears that they will go their separate ways soon. They also maneuver through riddles, puzzles, traps, and other dangerous feats of body and mind that will keep young teens greedily turning the pages to see how the story plays out. This third adventure builds slowly but spends less time filling in back story and does not try so hard to explain everything. Yet there is still enough history for readers unfamiliar with the series to dive right in. Although some of the foreshadowing is still heavy-handed, most readers will be too caught up in the story to care. Reviewer: Cheryl French
Gr 5–8—Reynie, Kate, Constance, and Sticky return for a third adventure. This time, the megalomaniac Ledroptha Curtain schemes to regain his deadly Whisperer machine. As Constance develops her powers of mental telepathy, Reynie and the others use their gifted minds to puzzle through Curtain's master plan even as they fall prey to his kidnapping attempt. Imprisoned by well-meaning and sinister characters alike, the Society members face choices that test their loyalty as well as their intellect. Sequels sometimes lack the intensity of the original works, and Prisoner's Dilemma struggles with this syndrome at times. The children's unique talents, long since revealed, are past the startling sparkle of their introduction. As character development yields to a dominant plot, the story lacks the facile agility of its predecessors. On the other hand, the opening gambit is fresh and frightfully funny, as is Constance Contraire always and forever. The writing is replete with rollicking metaphors. Finally, as in the best of E. L. Konigsburg's novels, Stewart's introspective characters examine the significance of their experiences. Unlike most adventurers, these special children see the world surrounding their story and share it with readers. If this is the last Society installment, readers had better, as Reynie says, "acquire a taste for the bittersweet."—Caitlin Augusta, Stratford Library Association, CT
Praise for The Mysterious Benedict Society:
A New York Times Bestseller
A School Library Journal Best Book of the Year
Winner of the E.B. White Read Aloud Award
A Top 10 Children's BookSense Pick
A Booklist "Top Ten Youth Science Fiction and Fantasy" Title
An ALA Notable Children's Book
A VOYA 2007 Top Shelf Fiction for Middle School Readers
A Chicago Public Library Best of the Best
Received critical praise, including 4 starred reviews
* "Like the Potter books, [this] story goes beyond mere adventures, delving into serious issues." - Booklist (starred review)
* "Fans of Roald Dahl or Blue Balliett will find a familiar blend of kid power, clues, and adventure."-School Library Journal (starred review)
* "Deliciously tasty." - BCCB (starred review)
Praise for The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey:
* Not just a rip-roaring adventure with plenty of clever twists and hair's-breadth escapes, but also a warm and satisfying tale about friendship." - School Library Journal (starred review)"
[Readers] will find this sequel a worthy successor." - Horn Book
"This classic struggle of good versus evil also includes the many layers in between." - VOYA"
Entertainingly quirky." - Kirkus
"Every bit as chunky and satisfying as the first, this adventure will delight fans." - The Bulletin