This is the second book in the "Mysterious Benedict Society" series and while it can definitely be read as a stand alone book, I would recommend reading the previous book before starting in on this one. The previous novel gives a lot of character development and some insight into the nuances of the characters as well as what to expect. Besides, the first book is great and shouldn't be missed if you can help it.
That said, we enjoyed the second book as much as the first. The same wonderful characters are present and ready for a new adventure. The setting is 1 year after the previous book ended. The children are on their way to a reunion with Mr. Benedict who has planned a sort of treasure hunt for them to hone their skills on the road to a great celebration. Unfortunately, Mr. Benedict is kidnapped before the children even arrive and thus the situation changes slightly.
The puzzles and around-the-world adventure are a ton of fun. The characters themselves have grown over the 'past year' and have some new mannerisms and skills. Constance in particular has developed some new traits that will serve the society well.
The overarching mystery in this book is once again thoughtful and fun to unravel. The framing of the adventure within a globetrotting treasure hunt is a lot of fun. Personally I would love to go on that sort of an adventure. Bringing back Mr. Curtain's threatening bodyguard/mercenary "Ten Men" added a great element of suspense to the chase. The climactic confrontation with their adversaries was fairly intense, especially for a children's book.
I found this book just as enjoyable as the first book and am glad to see that the story has been successful enough to warrant a series. I'm looking forward to seeing what sort of adventures the kids encounter in future books.
4 out of 5 stars
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