​The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey, by Trenton Lee Stewart

mysterious-benedict-societyThe Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey

Author: Trenton Lee Stewart
Illustrator: Diana Sudyka

Genre: Adventure, Speculative Fiction
Stand alone or series: Second book in a series
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers (May 2008)

I discovered this series a short while ago, and just finished the second book. The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey follows the adventures of four extraordinary children, Reynie, Kate, Sticky, and Constance. It’s been a year since their first adventure, chronicled in the first book. The four friends, blessed with special abilities and intelligence, have been looking forward to a trip arranged for them by their mentor/patron Mr. Nicholas Benedict. The trip takes a turn for the worse when Mr. Benedict and his assistant, Number Two, are kidnapped by his evil twin, Mr. Curtain. The friends decide to proceed with the journey, in the hopes of following in Mr. Benedict’s footsteps and his eventual rescue.

The story takes the children from a ship to a castle and on to an island, where they themselves fall into Mr. Curtain’s hands. As in the first book, they draw on their courage, skills, and friendship to get out of various scrapes and engineer an escape.

Though this is an adventure story, it’s not as fast-paced as others. Considerable time is taken to develop the personalities of the four major characters, and their interactions with one another and with the adults around them. We see a deepening of their personalities, perhaps at the cost of showcasing their special skills. In other words, in the first book, the main draw for me was the delightful discovery of what Reynie, Kate, Sticky and Constance could do, which earned them a spot in Mr. Benedict’s handpicked group of young geniuses. But in this second book, we don’t see as much of those abilities. Instead, the spotlight was more on their inner growth, as they came to terms with fears, success, and acclaim. Overall, it was a good mixture of both plot and character arcs.

Recommendations: 4 stars. This is a long book, suited for Grades 5-7. Better enjoyed if you’ve read the first book before this.

Availability: Hardcover, Paperback, Audio, Ebook

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