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The Curious Case of Mary Ann, Book II

by Jenn Thorson ; illustrated by Dave White

Pub Date: July 29th, 2022
ISBN: 9798986505602
Publisher: Waterhouse Press

A sequel offers a Lewis Carroll–inspired mystery set in a fantastical place.

Thorson’s follow-up to The Curious Case of Mary Ann (2017) brings back protagonist Mary Ann Carpenter. At the outset of this installment, Mary Ann has journeyed to a place called Thither. After some blundering (including a misunderstanding with a talking mother beagle), she begins Sword and Jabberwock training under the tutelage of a skilled caterpillar. The hard work will come in handy, as, when it is complete, Mary Ann will team up with her old acquaintance Sir Rufus Carmine. In the series opener, Mary Ann helped Sir Rufus kill a Jabberwock. Now, the two are called on to investigate a missing person. D.M. Tweedle (one of the Tweedle twins) has vanished. The available evidence suggests that a giant crow named Ole Inky carried him off. The problem is Ole Inky is more of a legendary figure than a real one. He is something from children’s stories and “not really flapping about the countryside.” What actually happened to poor D.M.? The investigation sends Mary Ann and Sir Rufus down a path that becomes curiouser and curiouser. For all the kookiness of talking beetles, a viscount who walks backward, and, of course, unbirthdays, the author manages to keep the tale orderly. The many quirks are surprising yet they are never overwhelming to the point of confusion. This allows the heart of the story to focus on the playful and poignant relationship (which includes a “pretend-engagement”) between Sir Rufus and Mary Ann. But certain portions dwell on the mundane. How well characters slept and generic statements like “I am so glad you are all right” dampen some of the excitement. Nevertheless, the humor shines through. Take, for example, a noble hamster who has a difficult time attracting a spouse. Readers are told that it takes someone special “to get betrothed to a man who lives in an underground manor of sawdust, pipes and tunnels.”

An amusing and touching romp through a wild land of possibilities.