Rated 4.5 ~ Juniors ( 8 – 12 )
The success of Pseudonymous Bosch’s Secret Series is, as the author might prefer, that of a master alchemist. Taking as his base material the classic tropes of children’s tales, from fairytales to Rowling, Bosch creates spirited and amusing fictions that parade their allusions playfully. With an authorial voice that is at times arch, thought provoking, compelling or profound, Bosch throws huge amounts of observational comedy, sly insights, and empathy into his stories, without neglecting the all-important narrative thrust.
In Bad Luck, the sequel to Bad Magic (part of the author’s new Bad Books Series), we rejoin Clay, younger brother of Max-Ernest from the Secret books. Clay is the new kid on Price Island, the location of the mysterious Earth Ranch camp for magically-gifted kids. Unexpectedly, Clay’s tentative steps towards discovering his own magical identity are interrupted by the arrival of Brett Junior, a lovably articulate rich kid thrown off his father’s cruise liner for asking awkward questions about all the livestock on board.
Soon enough, Clay, Brett, and their crew of complex and feisty friends are embroiled in a battle with the sinister Amber and the Midnight Sun organization. Bosch knows just when to suppress the authorial interventions and let the thrills flow as the struggle focuses on one of the island’s secrets, a slumbering dragon lurking deep within its network of volcanic caves. What happens next is a classic adventure story combined with the awkward peer pressure struggles and sharp, witty dialogue of middle-grade kids looking to assert their independence.
With allusions to everything from Lord of The Flies to King Kong, The Hobbit to Despicable Me, Bad Luck indulges the readers’ tastes but never patronizes them. It’s a book unafraid to throw in a word like ‘legerdemain,’ willing to deliver a disdainful sideswipe at consumer excess, and clever to embrace the alluring fantasy of a dragon worthy of any medieval bestiary.
In brief, Bad Luck is a delightful highly entertaining second installment to a children’s series destined to be another sure success.
Book 2 in The Bad Books Series