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Book Report: The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey

Another book I read back in March but evidently forgot to blog was The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey, the second in Trenton Lee Stewart’s series. Trilogy, I hope.

I wasn’t really pleased with the first one, which started out brilliantly and then had a very dull middle and not that great an end. The problem, really, was that the good bit was unsustainable. The mysterious Mr. Benedict advertises for special children; when Our Hero turns up, he is put through a series of examinations. These are terrific scenes, with magnificent puzzles that are solved not just once (by our hero), but three times in three ways (by two of the other three eventual members of the Society). However, once the tests are over and the four kids begin the adventure, there isn’t any way to sustain the highly artificial test-solving fun.

In the second book, however, Mr. Stewart has a stroke of genius. Mr. Benedict has set a bunch of puzzles for the kids in the society, as a treat. But before they can get started on the puzzles (which require globe-trotting and so on), Mr. Benedict disappears! And in order to find him and rescue him they have to solve all the puzzles to find out where he was when he was captured—and they have to do it before the bad guys.

So we’re back at the highly artificial test-solving that was so much fun in the first book, only it’s the actual meat of this one. Very nicely done.

Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,