A brother and sister find themselves trapped in a frightening school that threatens to destroy their minds in this dark comedy.
Tobias, 12, and Charlotte, 11, don’t like their awful nanny, but when they play one trick too many on her, their father becomes enraged, drives them out to the desert and leaves them by the side of the road. Readers soon learn that their dad feels guilty and rushes back to retrieve them, but events intervene, and the siblings wind up virtually imprisoned in the terrible Witherwood Reform School. Apparently run by the odd-looking Mr. Orrin, the school looms like a prison. Tobias fashions a makeshift key that allows the two to sneak around at night, where they meet another student, Fiddle, a boy constantly and unsuccessfully working a Rubik’s Cube. He clues them in on some of the school’s secrets, which makes them all the more determined to escape. Skye writes in very much the same vein as Lemony Snicket, with menacing dark humor and outlandish characters. The volume opens a new series, so after plenty of suspense and revelations about the truly awful school, readers can be assured that the siblings will still face precarious circumstances in the next installment.
One can almost hear the Tim Curry narration. (Adventure. 9-12)