Monday, January 24, 2022

Review: Mystery Force Assemble by Tom Neill

 Happy Monday! We're starting out the week with a middle grade series, which packs tons of mystery and magical, creature fun. I'm reviewing the first book, since it's best to start at the beginning. According to the blurb, this one has a diverse span of characters and touches on monsters and a bit of magic as well as great adventure.

Ready to see what it's about?

Mystery Force, Book One
by Tom Neill
Illustrated by Suzi Spooner
Tenebray Press
Middle Grade Mystery
102 pages
ages 8 to 12

Meet Rasheed, Jonathan, and Josephine and their magical animal helpers: Maximilian the fire fox, Dan the karkadan, and Quetzalcoatl the feathered serpent (but you can call her Quetzy). They're three unique kids who love mysteries (actually they hate mysteries, but they love solving them). Join them in their adventures where they take on evil doers and monsters while shattering the misconceptions and expectations of people who make the mistake of underestimating them. In this first adventure they cross the country and ocean in order to uncover who is behind the sweatshops exploiting the forced labor of magical creatures. Hi-jinks, hilarity, and heroism ensue!



Mystery melds with magical creatures in a reality based on modern Earth, where the fantastical side has made itself known and fully integrated into daily life. 

Rascheed and Jonathan hear that magical creatures they've never heard of before have gone missing in Scotland. When their teacher's at school, magical creatures themselves, talk about the problem, the two boys decide they need to get involved. With the help of a dragon and their babysitter, Josephine, they head off to Scotland to track down a warehouse and see if they can discover clues to help them find and assist the poor, magical creatures.

This is definitely an original twist on mystery and fantasy, which settles into a familiar world. Rascheed and Jonathan come across as normal, middle grade boys, except one is very good at creating inventions and the other sits in a wheelchair. So, there is a lot of imagination packed in...especially considering their teachers are unicorns, pegasi, and dragons. I find it amazing that these boys just pack up and fly around the world on a whim (teachers find it totally normal that two kids this age want to solve cases), but then, with everything else melded in, anything is possible, I guess. 

I'd recommend this one for the lower end of the middle grade audience or chapter book crowd. The sentences are short and vocabulary fairly fitting for this age group. The descriptions and thematic are light and let the action take over. The book is short, written in larger font, and carries lovely illustrations throughout. There's humor as well as action, making this an easy read...although there were moments, I skipped over paragraphs, since some were a bit drawn out, too. 

One of the more interesting things about this book is the diversity and message. Of course, there's a fun mystery and the fantasy end adds all sorts of excitement and imagination, but there's also the idea of people being equal, despite their differences (no 2nd class people) and friendship. Plus, with one of the main characters in a wheelchair, the problems they face as well as differences in their daily lives (which also includes some neat fun) comes into play in a natural way. So, there are some wholesome aspects wrapped up in these pages as well.

This is a fun read for those, who are skilled at their chapter books, like mystery and are always open to fantastical creatures and adventure. It's definitely an interesting start to what promises to be a fun series.

1 comment:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Definitely looks like a fun read.