Tony DiTerlizzi
& Holly Black,
Lucinda's Secret
(Simon & Schuster, 2003)

When children run afoul of the faery realms, there is excitement and danger, but it's always fun.

Not so for the Grace children, whose experiences in the old Spiderwyck mansion are anything but. Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi have stamped the The Spiderwick Chronicles with a grim sense of reality and genuine danger, but never in a way that should frighten young readers. Somehow, it's still fun, delightfully so, for those of us safely ensconced with the book and a hot mug of tea in our armchairs at home.

Lucinda's Secret is the third book in the five-book series. Like its predecessors, the compact volume is solid, cleverly assembled and a fast breeze to read. DiTerlizzi's illustrations add a lively feel to the book, perfectly capturing the feel of the story.

This volume is less action-packed than the previous two. There is some room to breathe here, some time for matters to be explored and explained -- but not so much that any real answers are discovered. The Grace children, twins Jared and Simon and older sister Mallory, visit their crazy Aunt Lucinda, owner of their sprawling new home, and learn that at least one living adult has had contact with the faery world. Of course, Lucinda is certifiably crazy and locked in an asylum, so no one is going to believe her. And her warnings of worse dangers to come are anything but comforting for the three young Graces.

This excellent series, now past the halfway mark, continues to charm children and adults alike. Genuine dialogue, clear plotlines and believable characters -- including the unbelievable ones -- make this a treasure, whether a solitary pleasure for adults, a wonderful pastime for young readers or a storybook for one to read to the other.

- Rambles
written by Tom Knapp
published 15 November 2003

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