by Pseudonymous Bosch (pen name of Raphael Simon)
1st in The Secret series.
This book starts like a mystery. That’s why I chose it for review. I am an avid mystery fiction fan, so my natural inclination is to introduce all of you and your children to the wonders of this genre.
But, what started out as a mystery, with detection and secret codes and yes, even an unexplained death–turned on a dime and became a fantasy. Just enough fantasy, perhaps, to hook more modern readers who may have come to expect more fantastical elements woven into plots.
Ultimately, though, it’s a story of friendship and adventure, with the promise of more hair-raising escapades, more danger, and (hopefully) more character development as the series continues. I thought it was a fun read, with the promise of more to come.
The plot, from the publisher’s website:
Warning: this description has not been authorized by Pseudonymous Bosch. As much as he’d love to sing the praises of his book (he is very vain), he wouldn’t want you to hear about his brave 11-year old heroes, Cass and Max-Ernest. Or about how a mysterious box of vials, the Symphony of Smells, sends them on the trail of a magician who has vanished under strange (and stinky) circumstances. And he certainly wouldn’t want you to know about the hair-raising adventures that follow and the nefarious villains they face. You see, not only is the name of this book secret, the story inside is, too. For it concerns a secret. A Big Secret. https://www.lbyr.com/titles/pseudonymous-bosch/the-name-of-this-book-is-secret/9780316113694/
There is a lot of humor, and a lot of potential. The main characters have flaws and strengths–both of which are brought out by their unlikely collaboration which becomes a friendship.
The conceit of the book is that it’s about a very “secret” happening, and the characters cannot be revealed–too dangerous! We aren’t really told why, but as this is a first in series, it may become more obvious as the story progresses. As a reader of many “series books”, I know that one cannot fully judge a series on it’s first entry alone. The first in a series is really a jumping off point for further adventures, more character development, etc. As a stand alone, it was fun, but the ending leaves us with many questions.
Warning–there are some elements that younger readers might find scary and disturbing. I’d recommend it for readers 9 years old and older.