PURE DEAD MAGIC

Mary Poppins meets the Addams Family in a nonstop farce that spins readers and characters through cyberspace, from a cluttered mansion in the Scottish highlands to an elegant Italian palazzo. Three weeks earlier, paterfamilias Luciano Strega-Borgia had stormed out of StregaSchloss in a snit and mysteriously vanished. Now, with witch graduate school about to open, his grieving wife Baci is desperately in need of a nanny unfazed by the crocodile in the moat, the dragon, yeti, and griffin in the cellar, and a trio of strong-minded children ages 1, 10, and 12. Enter motherly Flora McLachlan, a cool-headed retired witch with an unusually useful Palm Pilot. There’s one crisis solved—but the plot thickens: Luciano wakes up in Italy, kidnapped by evil half-brother Don Lucifer di S’Embowelli Borgia, and, shortly before the arrival at StregaSchloss of an ill-fated squad of hitmen (one in a bunny suit) hired by Don Lucifer, young Titus and Pandora Strega-Borgia inadvertently e-mail baby Damp through Luciano’s PC. This debut fiction from Gliori (Polar Bolero, p. 497, etc.) is also the first of a projected trilogy, though it stands sturdily on its own. She fills it with incident, as well as magical transformations, nauseating messes, cartoon violence, just deserts, and an array of exaggerated characters ranging from innocent to vile, quietly competent to totally clueless. Should Lemony Snicket grow a bit stale, here’s the perfect antidote. (Fiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-375-81410-8

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2001

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Clever as ever—if slow off the mark—and positively laden with tics, quirks, and puns.

THE MYSTERIOUS BENEDICT SOCIETY AND THE RIDDLE OF AGES

From the Mysterious Benedict Society series , Vol. 4

When deadly minions of archvillain Ledroptha Curtain escape from prison, the talented young protégés of his twin brother, Nicholas Benedict, reunite for a new round of desperate ploys and ingenious trickery.

Stewart sets the reunion of cerebral Reynie Muldoon Perumal, hypercapable Kate Wetherall, shy scientific genius George “Sticky” Washington, and spectacularly sullen telepath Constance Contraire a few years after the previous episode, The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Prisoner’s Dilemma (2009). Providing relief from the quartet’s continual internecine squabbling and self-analysis, he trucks in Tai Li, a grubby, precociously verbal 5-year-old orphan who also happens to be telepathic. (Just to even the playing field a bit, the bad guys get a telepath too.) Series fans will know to be patient in wading through all the angst, arguments, and flurries of significant nose-tapping (occasionally in unison), for when the main action does at long last get under way—the five don’t even set out from Mr. Benedict’s mansion together until more than halfway through—the Society returns to Nomansan Island (get it?), the site of their first mission, for chases, narrow squeaks, hastily revised stratagems, and heroic exploits that culminate in a characteristically byzantine whirl of climactic twists, triumphs, and revelations. Except for brown-skinned George and olive-complected, presumably Asian-descended Tai, the central cast defaults to white; Reynie’s adoptive mother is South Asian.

Clever as ever—if slow off the mark—and positively laden with tics, quirks, and puns. (Fiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-316-45264-9

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Megan Tingley/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE BAKER STREET IRREGULARS

THE FALL OF THE AMAZING ZALINDAS, CASEBOOK NO. 1

In a fresh go at an angle taken by Robert Newman back in the ’80s, Mack and Citrin present a hitherto-undocumented case from the point of view of the squad of street children Holmes occasionally employed. Here, the theft of a hidden treasure from Buckingham Palace and the deaths of three high-wire acrobats in a seeming accident are linked and the culprits identified. This is thanks to sharp detective work by lead urchin Wiggins; his new young associate Ozzy, an asthmatic, newly orphaned apprentice forger; and (to the discomposure of the misogynistic Holmes) Pilar, a Romany fortuneteller’s daughter with the handy ability to read lips. The authors fold in plenty of characters and references from the Holmes canon, as well as an embedded code that hints at sequels. They close with various notes on period hats, transportation and other topics. Comics artist Ruth provides a few atmospheric illustrations to this fast-paced, authentically styled caper. (cast list, endpaper map) (Fiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-439-82836-8

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2006

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