Shawne's Reviews > The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey

The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey by Trenton Lee Stewart
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's review
Oct 28, 09

bookshelves: fiction
Read in September, 2009

I suspect Trenton Lee Stewart must have known that he was on to a good thing with his Benedict Society series - especially as the first was so very much the kind of book that would delight and mystify young children, while also not boring the adults who would have to read these books out loud until presumably their progeny fell into a dream-like stupor. With Perilous Journey, he takes the universe and characters first explored in the first book and expands their horizons, moving the story and the stakes to a global scale, while intelligently using plot points and character traits first mentioned in the earlier book to flesh out and give weight to the sequel.

Again, the plot isn't the most plausible of storylines, even after disbelief has been duly suspended. The eponymous Society of precocious children must now embark on a worldwide quest, solving clues and keeping their wits about them, to find their kidnapped patron. While it lacks the frenetic zing of the first novel, Perilous Journey benefits even further from Stewart's deft, assured characterisation. Under his watchful eye, the children already so well sketched-out in his first novel come to life in this one - with Reynie struggling with some very adult concerns about his ability to trust others; Sticky discovering an ego that proves difficult to tame, or Constance discovering depths to her abilities that frighten and exhilarate her (and her companions) in equal measure.

Truly Stewart's gift lies in picking apart the tangle of plot and mystery and occasionally ludicrous action to get to the heart of his characters - and for that reason alone, this novel is a worthwhile read.
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