The interesting and satisfying conclusion to the mystery just doesn’t make the long rambling journey worth the trip.

THE WIZARD OF DARK STREET

From the Oona Crate Mystery series , Vol. 1

Oona would rather solve cases than cast spells, but her decision not to apprentice to her uncle, The Wizard of Dark Street, has disastrous consequences.

In 1877, 12-year-old Oona is a rare natural magician, but she has reasons beyond an interest in detection to shun her magical heritage—personal reasons. Although she lives with her magician uncle on Dark Street, last of the 13 roads between the worlds of Man and Faerie, Oona wants to follow in her dead father’s gumshoe footsteps and solve crimes. When the ceremony to name a new apprentice to The Wizard ends abruptly with the disappearance of her uncle and prompts local crime boss Red Martin to attempt to take possession of Pendulum House, magical linchpin of Dark Street and traditional home of The Wizard, Oona and her talking raven Deacon are on the case. Odyssey’s debut is a sad thicket of extraneous detail and repetitive exposition with a regrettably unexplored historical setting. Oona is engaging enough, but those around her don’t rise to her level of characterization. The mystery offers some appeal, but the “magical” setting is a pale reflection of Diagon Alley.

The interesting and satisfying conclusion to the mystery just doesn’t make the long rambling journey worth the trip. (Fantasy/mystery. 9-12)

Pub Date: July 26, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-60684-143-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Egmont USA

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2011

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Wholesome shading to bland, but well-stocked with exotic creatures and locales, plus an agreeable cast headed by a child...

KEEPER OF THE LOST CITIES

A San Diego preteen learns that she’s an elf, with a place in magic school if she moves to the elves’ hidden realm.

Having felt like an outsider since a knock on the head at age 5 left her able to read minds, Sophie is thrilled when hunky teen stranger Fitz convinces her that she’s not human at all and transports her to the land of Lumenaria, where the ageless elves live. Taken in by a loving couple who run a sanctuary for extinct and mythical animals, Sophie quickly gathers friends and rivals at Foxfire, a distinctly Hogwarts-style school. She also uncovers both clues to her mysterious origins and hints that a rash of strangely hard-to-quench wildfires back on Earth are signs of some dark scheme at work. Though Messenger introduces several characters with inner conflicts and ambiguous agendas, Sophie herself is more simply drawn as a smart, radiant newcomer who unwillingly becomes the center of attention while developing what turn out to be uncommonly powerful magical abilities—reminiscent of the younger Harry Potter, though lacking that streak of mischievousness that rescues Harry from seeming a little too perfect. The author puts her through a kidnapping and several close brushes with death before leaving her poised, amid hints of a higher destiny and still-anonymous enemies, for sequels.

Wholesome shading to bland, but well-stocked with exotic creatures and locales, plus an agreeable cast headed by a child who, while overly fond of screaming, rises to every challenge. (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4424-4593-2

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: July 18, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2012

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A smart, fresh take on an old favorite makes for a terrific series kickoff

THE GREAT SHELBY HOLMES

From the Shelby Holmes series , Vol. 1

A modern Sherlock Holmes retelling brings an 11-year-old black John Watson into the sphere of know-it-all 9-year-old white detective Shelby Holmes.

John's an Army brat who's lived in four states already. Now, with his parents' divorce still fresh, the boy who's lived only on military bases must explore the wilds of Harlem. His new life in 221A Baker St. begins inauspiciously, as before he's even finished moving in, his frizzy-haired neighbor blows something up: "BOOM!" But John's great at making friends, and Shelby certainly seems like an interesting kid to know. Oddly loquacious, brusque, and extremely observant, Shelby's locally famous for solving mysteries. John’s swept up in her detecting when a wealthy, brown-skinned classmate enlists their help in the mysterious disappearance of her beloved show dog, Daisy. Whatever could have happened to the prizewinning Cavalier King Charles spaniel? Has she been swiped by a jealous competitor? Has Daisy’s trainer—mysteriously come into enough money to take a secret weekend in Cozumel—been placing bets against his own dog? Brisk pacing, likable characters, a few silly Holmes jokes ("I'm Petunia Cumberbatch," says Shelby while undercover), and a diverse neighborhood, carefully and realistically described by John, are ingredients for success.

A smart, fresh take on an old favorite makes for a terrific series kickoff . (Mystery. 9-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-68119-051-8

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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