Sixth-grade sleuths Jack and Ruthie are no strangers to the magic of the miniature Thorne Rooms, but this time, changing the past may do more harm than good.
Through a school genealogy project, Jack and Ruthie learn that a fellow student is distantly related to Phoebe Monroe, the young slave girl whom they met in the previous adventure (Stealing Magic, 2012). As a result of a scandal, later generations of Phoebe’s family lost their fortune and their good standing in the community. Jack and Ruthie can clear the family name, but it means shrinking down and locating hidden documents inside the Chicago Art Institute’s miniature rooms. Meanwhile, Jack’s family history is also intertwined in the Thorne Rooms. An old coin—a piece of eight—leads him to travel back in time to 1753 and meet his ancestor, pirate Jack Norfleet. But suddenly, Jack begins to disappear! Changing history can bring disastrous results. Keeping track of all the magical restrictions, along with the spatial logic required to follow air ducts and specifically placed ladders, can be enough to make readers’ heads spin. Add in all of the great-great-great-great-great-great ancestors, plus two parallel yet unconnected storylines, and this magical adventure slows to a crawl.
Dedicated Sixty-Eight Rooms readers will have the patience to sift through, but if newcomers to the series start here, they just might abandon ship. (Fantasy. 8-12)