Welcome to Brunhild Tower, a complicated fortress of an apartment building with a mysterious past.
Colm McShane, his twin brother, Mal (short for Malachy), and their widowed mother move to Chicago from Dallas for Mom’s new job at the University of Chicago. Brunhild Tower is unlike anything the 12-year-olds have seen before. Although “weird and old,” their new apartment, with a maid’s room, butler’s pantry, and two bathrooms, is bigger than their old house. There’s also a view of Lake Michigan. So why is the rent so low? What does Mom’s odd new boss mean when he says it’s “impossible to leave” Brunhild Tower? Their eccentric neighbor, Princess Veronica Margareta of Syldavia (a nod to Tin-Tin, perhaps?) issues an odd warning: Don’t wander the building between the hours of 1 and 2 in the afternoon. Does the elderly princess’s warning have anything to do with the button for the 13th floor—excluded from the elevator panel in accordance with superstition—which only appears for that one hour each day? Colm, who still grieves for his father, is more open to the unknown than his just-the-facts brother. Soon, good-natured narrator Colm, pedantic Mal, and their new friend and neighbor, bibliophile Tamika, find themselves on the phantom 13th floor, exploring what lies beyond the elevator doors. Colm, his brother, and their friend are believable middle graders, and the mystery unfolds into a solid adventure that offers just enough chills to keep the pages flipping. Colm and Mal are white, and Tamika is black.
Goose bump–inducing fun. (Fantasy. 8-13)