In the first installment of this four book series, Madsen spins a fantastical tale of time travel, talking animals, daring adventures and Pig Latin.
Brother and sister team Jake and Alexa Moustachio band together to unlock the mysteries of a world hidden on the other side the magnifying glass. While rummaging in the attic for signs of their overly particular cat Rex, the children hear a voice calling to them from across the glass. The Bell of Time has been stolen and Delbert, the Keeper of Time, needs their help to find and return the bell to its rightful place in the clock tower at the Museum of Time. Unbeknownst to the Moustachios, they are Angelik Arkeepers of the Universe; they have been chosen to watch over all and protect the secrets of the universe from those who seek to do harm. As Jake and Alexa search the castle for clues, they meet a host of talkative characters, run from ghostly suits of armor and even play an impromptu game of checkers. To tell their story, Madsen often employs Pig Latin in dialogue and chapter titles, which only results in stopping the flow of the narrative. Unlike the nonsense words used for the spells uttered in the hallowed halls of Hogwarts, Pig Latin is decipherable and the frequent need to pause and decode words takes readers out of the story. Moreover, characters pop in and out of the tale at a rapid pace, leaving readers with a disjointed sense of plot and purpose. The book would do well to draw more attention to the moose head, the baron and the dueling bakers in later books in the series. Madsen’s enticing premise would benefit from further characterization and world building as the Moustachio siblings adventure onward into this parallel universe.
An imaginative, if uneven, journey for fans of A Series of Unfortunate Events and The Spiderwick Chronicles.