In this, their third art adventure, Sunni and Blaise are inexorably pulled back to the painting The Mariner’s Return to Arcadia in Blackhope Tower, the setting of their first encounter with the artist/sorcerer Fausto Corvo and villain Soranzo (The Blackhope Enigma, 2011).
Sunni and Blaise are sure that Corvo’s three magical paintings are safely hidden within Arcadia. They steadfastly kept this secret even when they were kidnapped and held in 18th-century London (The Crimson Shard, 2012). But when a “spirit photographer” shows up at Blackhope Tower with an Oculus—a shadow lantern—along with painted slides created by Corvo, both mystery and chase are reopened. With events unfolding on Halloween, and with the addition of a ghost who has her own agenda, Sunni and Blaise are almost stretched to their limits. As before, descriptions are rich, but readers who have not followed the duo’s adventures through the first two books may be hopelessly lost, despite constant references to past adventures. In fact, the fill-ins slow the pace considerably, leaving only die-hard fans curious about the surprising fate of the three paintings or the burgeoning romance between Sunni and Blaise.
For most readers, the first two mysteries will have sufficed. (Fantasy. 9-12)