Magicians are supposed to disappear, but this one may have a hard time coming back.
Once again white sisters Jaundice and Kale would like nothing better than to stay at home darning socks and tying knots. Once again their parents won’t let them. Having already been shanghaied by pirates (The Jolly Regina, 2017), the last thing they’d expect is to be swept onto a fast-moving train by Magique, a magician sent by their parents. And the next-to-last thing they’d expect would be for Magique to disappear, perhaps permanently, while they’re en route to the Uncanny Valley. Soon they find themselves assisting illustriously mustachioed Hugo Fromage, detective extraordinaire. It’s a train full of suspects, and no one is quite what they seem. The sudden turn the series takes into murder-mystery territory comes as a nice counterweight to its previous swashbuckling adventure. LaReau has a lot of fun with her Agatha Christie homage, filling her book to the brim with requisite gags and puns. The Bland sisters live up to their names (“I’m not myself until I’ve had my plain oatmeal and weak, tepid tea”), counterintuitively enlivening the narrative with their over-the-top despondency. Granted, kids hoping for further piratical fare may be disappointed, but the jokes and charming pen-and-ink cartoons (which depict a multicultural cast) will pad the blow.
Move over, Holmes and Watson. There’s a new detecting pair in town, and the name’s Bland. (Mystery. 7-9)