This entertaining English fantasy from Saunders (Magicalamity) reads as though conjured up by a clever child's imagination, creating a world where, behind ordinary police and government forces, a Secret Ministry of the Unexplained (SMU) exists to handle goblins, ghosts, and "anything... unexplained that might be a threat to national security." Eleven-year-old twins Lily and Oz Spoffard are introduced to the SMU by a talking cat when their family inherits, and moves into, their great-great-uncles' house, which includes the remains of their once-famous chocolate shop. Learning that the chocolate their great-great-uncles made was no ordinary confection, and that one of them-wicked, immortal Isadore-is still alive and trying to supply a dangerous terrorist gang with immortality chocolate, the twins, along with an adventurous new friend, are pulled into the SMU's quest to find and stop Isadore. A quick pace and intricate plot twists keep excitement high, while the warm family dynamics, unexpected relationships, and thoughtful character development add just the right amount of depth to this enjoyable and moving romp through a magical London underworld. Ages 10-up. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Gr 3-6-Soon after moving to 18 Skittle Street, 11-year-old twins Lily and Oz realize this will be anything but a normal summer. Their family inherits the house and the boarded up chocolate shop downstairs from their father's great-great-uncle, a famous chocolatier. The twins discover that their uncles were sorcerers and made magical chocolate, and now a sinister gang is trying to get their hands on one of the secret family recipes. With the help of an immortal invisible talking cat, a rat, and an elephant, the twins, along with their friend Caydon, are swept up in a high stakes mission headed by the Secret Ministry of the Unexplained (SMU). Jayne Entwistle does a phenomenal job of bringing Saunders's magical story (Delacorte, 2013) to life. She gives each character a distinctive voice, and her pacing is excellent. Boys and girls will get caught up in the twists and turns of this tale.-Anne Bozievich, Friendship Elementary School, Glen Rock, PA (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.