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HEIR OF MYSTERY by Philip Ardagh


The Second Unlikely Exploit

by Philip Ardagh & illustrated by David Roberts

Age Range: 9 - 11

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2004
ISBN: 0-8050-7477-5
Publisher: Henry Holt

The second of Ardagh’s Unlikely Exploits series takes the poor but unusually gifted McNally sibs into dreaded Fishbone Forest to reclaim the pilfered brain of their recently deceased youngest member, Fergal. Though they encounter several new characters—notably Mr. Maggs, a menacing, not-exactly-human brain surgeon cradling a teddy bear and scheming to resurrect Cary Grant, make all numbers even, and similar horrors—and do accomplish their goal (sort of), the plot tends to be elbowed aside by backtracking expeditions, authorial asides, and seemingly inexplicable occurrences. The oppressively rain-soaked setting, and Roberts’s vignettes of misshapen figures with madly staring eyes, give the tale a Lemony taste (as in Snicket)—but it reads more like a set-up for future episodes than a self-contained story. (Fiction. 9-11)