What do you get when you mix chocolate, magic, dyslexia and immortality? Plenty of zany intrigue, that’s what.
When the Spoffard family inherits 18 Skittle Street, London, twins Lily and Oz are pleased to discover it includes a now-defunct old-fashioned chocolate shop. At first it’s just a lark, but soon the kids are drawn into a vortex of historical tensions involving their mysterious triplet relatives—great-great-uncles Pierre and Isadore and great-grandfather Marcel. Ongoing challenges range from fighting off the demands of the Schmertz Gang for magical chocolate and dealing with the Secret Ministry of the Unexplained to assuaging the immortal and evil Isadore’s pain over unrequited love for his sister-in-law, Daisy. Helpful cohorts include a skateboarding neighborhood boy named Caydon, with talking-animal assistance provided by a plump cat named Demerara and a rat named Spike. A Time-Glass that shows events from the past and magical postcards add to the fun. Light and fluffy when not bogged down in explanations, the narrative gives occasional overt or implied nods to Harry Potter, James Bond, Narnia and Alice in Wonderland. Infused with cheerful flecks of British humor, the characters eventually endear themselves to readers, especially as Isadore proves to be an incompetent villain tired of immortality. Readers may appreciate references to dyslexia as another kind of magic.
A whizz-pop chocolate romp. (Fantasy. 9-12)