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by Joan Aiken

Age Range: 11 - 15

Pub Date: April 1st, 1996
ISBN: 0-385-32182-1
Publisher: Delacorte

Tempt Bellairs fans with this, or with any of the other adventures descended from The Wolves of Willoughby Chase. Aiken (The Shoemaker's Boy, 1994, etc.) takes doughty Is Twite and her melancholy, musically gifted cousin, Arun, on a madcap romp featuring hidden treasure, giant spiders, revelations, reunions, and a vicious band of hoodlums using the new Channel Tunnel to smuggle mastodon horns from France. The hair-raising adventures begin with a return to Arun's gloomy hometown, Folkestone, where he and Is find his mother gone, along with a hostage child of the dreaded Merry Gentry. Soon a trio of unsavory types shows up: mysterious old Admiral Fishskin, sinister Dominic de la Twite, and his sister, Merlwyn, all eager to get their hooks into Arun's mother. Aiken's nonstop pacing, exaggeratedly wicked or virtuous characters, and dialogue liberally decorated with lexical confections like "fubsy," "toploftical," "naffy," and "numbjumbous" give the tale a deliciously Dickensian flavor; evil receives its just desserts while virtue gets a handsome reward. What could be more satisfying? (Fiction. 11-15)