Mysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, is publishing a new review of The Midnight Curse by L. M. Falcone. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.
Kids Can Press (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 1-55453-358-9 (1554533589)
ISBN-13: 978-1-55453-358-9 (9781554533589)
Publication Date: March 2010
List Price: $16.95
Review: L. M. Falcone's third comic supernatural thriller written for middle-school level readers has a brother and sister trying to avoid The Midnight Curse.
11-year-old fraternal twins Lacey and Charlie are off to England after their mother receives a letter stating that they've been included in the will of the recently deceased Jonathan Edward Darcy, a great-great-uncle on their father's side. But strange things begin to occur after they arrive at Blaxton Manor, their uncle's home, including a whispered voice from inside a bottle that ominously tells Charlie that "the midnight curse has been passed on to you." The twins soon meet up with Daniel, a ghost about their own age living in the house, who tells them the story of how generations of Darcy men have been cursed ... and since Charlie is the last remaining male in the family, the curse is now on him. Lacey is determined to learn more about the curse -- and how it can be lifted -- so she can save her brother from a lifetime of fear.
The Midnight Curse can probably best be described as a madcap adventure, the literary equivalent of being trapped in an amusement park funhouse. The overall story arc makes sense, but the pathway taken is circuitous, and often seems arbitrary. Written at an age-appropriate level, middle school readers might enjoy being taken along for the ride, but a critical look at the narrative reveals significant plot conveniences, if not outright holes, including what seems to be a complete disregard for the passage (or lack thereof) of time, ironic given how important time is the story.
The two principal characters, Lacey and Charlie, also present something of a problem. The book is narrated from the point of view of Lacey, who, not unexpectedly, spins things her way. She introduces herself and her brother as "not at all alike", she being "cool, calm and sophisticated" and Charlie as "a pain in the butt". That's fine, as far as it goes, and her perspective is generally amusing. But Charlie comes across as wildly immature in the story, acting much younger than his age, screaming "I'm gonna die" with annoying regularity. There's something incongruous about their portrayal here that simply doesn't serve the story well.
Still, it's likely that most younger readers will overlook these issues and be thrilled to accompany Lacey and Charlie on their adventure to discover the secret behind The Midnight Curse.
Special thanks to Raab Associates for providing an ARC of The Midnight Curse for this review.
Review Copyright © 2010 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
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Synopsis (from the publisher): A deep, raspy voice whispered, “The midnight curse has been passed on to you!”
Thus begins a frightfully wacky adventure that will have young readers turning every page in spine-tingling anticipation. Lacey and her twin brother, Charlie, are visiting England to find out if they inherited anything from their reclusive uncle Jonathan, but before long, Charlie realizes he might not have inherited anything but the family curse. It’s a bad one — he’ll shrivel up and die unless someone ventures to the attic to face a malevolent spirit.
Curse removal is a complicated game involving a gothic cast of shifty characters. The twins sure have stirred things up, and the clock is ticking on Charlie’s curse. Can they finish what they started?
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