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. (from Amazon)
So, yeah, this is a Series of Unfortunate Events rip-off, only it’s less depressing, has less moody characters, weirder villains (if possible), and codes to decipher. I liked it!
It’s not entirely like Lemony Snicket’s books, of course, but it does resonate heavily of them. However, like I said, there’s practically no depressing parts and the writer is willing to actually tell us things, although very grudgingly. What he does’nt tell us are things that aren’t really important anyway, like Cass and Max-Ernest’s real names, where they live, etc. The author also a) isn’t on the run and b) hasn’t lost someone important in his life, so he isn’t whining all the time about them. This is very refreshing.
Besides the author and his writing style, there are fun characters, a fun mystery full of hidden codes and dangerous baddies, secret societies, and a sad story about twins who wanted to be magicians. I thought it was well done, and I enjoyed reading it once I stopped comparing it to the Lemony Snicket books.
I’d recommend it for those who didn’t like the Series of Unfortunate Events but want to read a quirky kid’s book with some interesting characters and a fantastic reveal.
Read: February 2009
The cover is pretty nice, eh? It’s the US version. Here’s the British cover:
I’m not sure which one I like better. Which one do you prefer?