A family with diverse magical powers gains a surprise ally in this sequel to Welcome to Normal (2013).
Though Soderberg continues to play the Quirks’ plight as a sitcom, readers are less likely to chuckle than wince at their behavior. Forced to move 26 times for fear of exposure in the nearly 10 years since twins Molly and Penelope were born, the family’s efforts to settle quietly in Normal are complicated both by an obsessively snoopy neighbor, Mrs. DeVille, and by their own strong tendency to abuse their powers. Five-year-old bad boy Finn, for instance, takes advantage of his selective invisibility to play annoying pranks and to steal from Mrs. DeVille, while scatterbrained mother Bree keeps her job as a waitress by controlling customers’ minds. Fortunately and as before, the supposedly ungifted Molly works her own brand of magic: She cleverly reins Finn in, keeps her neurotic sister (whose every mental image becomes real, willy-nilly) distracted and even convinces a TV news crew that there is nothing more notable about the Quirks than their backyard circus. And, rather than being the villain she seems, Mrs. DeVille turns out to be the sort who (literally) winks at the Quirks’…quirks.
More episodic catastrophes without lasting consequences, in a tale that shares a premise with, but bears only a superficial resemblance to, Ingrid Law’s brilliant Savvy (2008). (illustrations not seen) (Light fantasy. 8-10)