While accompanying their father on his research trip to Hamelin, Germany, 13-year-old Max and her 10-year-old brother, Carter, find that the Pied Piper is not just a fairy tale, but a very real and present danger.
Max is bitter toward her father for dragging them away from their home in New York City to research obscure fairy tales. Carter is the opposite. Refusing to be coddled because of his braced leg or taken in by his sister’s teenage angst, Carter approaches their trip as an adventure. But when a mysterious, pipe-wielding “pest control professional” arrives and lures them through a mirror and into a land called the Summer Isle, where nothing ever ages or dies, it will take both Max’s stubbornness and Carter’s optimism to survive and make it home again. J.M. Barrie, the Brothers Grimm, and Lewis Carroll all inform this modern twist on a familiar fairy tale. Unfortunately the intriguing premise is much like the Peddler’s Road that the siblings must follow: winding and confusing. Monsters, magic, and mystery await readers willing to stick to the path, but the obstacles of a confusing plot might prove too much for any but the most determined traveler.
A muddled and meandering series opener; perhaps things will coalesce in Book 2. (Fantasy. 8-12)