KP Book Review: The Mysterious Benedict Society

“Are you a gifted child looking for special opportunities?” The perplexity of this newspaper ad catches the attention of a boy named Reynie Muldoon, who is indeed gifted and yearns to achieve purpose outside the walls of Stonetown Orphanage.

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Upon responding to the ad, Reynie and dozens of other children find themselves taking a test that is not an average multiple-choice exam. Rather, it is bizarre, seemingly impossible, and altogether quite insane. The participants are quizzed with random questions pertaining to math, geography, science, and other subjects of academic nature—in addition to humility, kindness, and courage.

After passing this test, Reynie discovers that the brain behind it belongs to an intriguing and odd man by the name of Mr. Nicholas Benedict. Along with Reynie, Mr. Benedict chooses Constance Contraire (a contrary and persuasive girl), Sticky Washington (a boy who can remember every word he reads), and Kate Wetherall (equipped with her red bucket of problem-solving tools) to form The Mysterious Benedict Society. Together these four children are tasked with going undercover to infiltrate a private school involving a man named Mr. Curtain and a strange machine called The Whisperer.

The Mysterious Benedict Society is not the type of book I would typically read, but it piqued my curiosity enough that I enjoyed it and read its two sequels, The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey and The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Prisoner’s Dilemma.

Trenton Lee Stewart is a witty author. The intelligence this book contains makes it unique. With riddles so clever and unusual, one cannot help but laugh aloud when the answers are revealed. Although the plot moves a little slowly in some areas, Stewart’s amusing writing style will entice you to read on. The Mysterious Benedict Society is a strange but perfect combination of Ronald Dahl’s works and Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events.

The Mysterious Benedict Society is a book one might consider reading to experience a taste of a different genre. It is moderately paced, features characters full of personality, and includes enough humor to cause you to chuckle during several moments as you read.

For writers who aspire to incorporate good-natured wit and intelligence in their novels, I encourage you to take an example from Mr. Trenton Lee Stewart. His style is unlike anything I have read before, and nearly every reader will find it charming and downright fun. If this book review has kept your attention all the way to the end, the book itself will delight you more, so next time you visit your local library, pick up The Mysterious Benedict Society and immerse yourself in the well-strung story that Stewart offers.

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Christine Eaton is a college student who loves stories and hopes to publish children’s books. Wearing flip-flops in December, frequenting the beach, and taking every opportunity to visit Disneyland, Christine relishes living in sunny Southern California. She can usually be found happily sipping tea, memorizing lines from the latest play she is a part of, caving into her addiction to chocolate, writing encouraging snail mail, or listening to music, which is usually something folky like Andrew Peterson or the Gray Havens, or some Broadway musical (and rarely anything landing between those two categories.) Art is one of her largest passions, and her walls are covered in her sketches and paintings. Christine yearns to use her skills to glorify God by illustrating and writing her own children’s books that will teach children more about Jesus. Some of her favorite authors include A.S. Peterson, Francine Rivers, Louisa May Alcott, and Andrew Peterson. She is so thankful for the opportunity to manage Kingdom Pen’s social media accounts and help out around the Kingdom wherever she can. From the encouragement, enthusiastic young Christian writers, and her fellow staff members, KP holds a huge place in her heart and she is excited about encouraging young writers to write well and glorify God through their writing.
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Comments

  1. This looks like a neat book. I think I’ll have to check it out.

  2. Yes, yes, yes! This is my favorite children’s book of all time. Coming from me, that means a lot! It starts out a little slow, but the pace quickens considerably, and the characters are all amazing! I told my family to read it, and it’s become my one of my dad’s favorites, and well as my younger brothers’. Read it. 😀

  3. I LOVE this book. It is the first in a series, and none of the books disappoint. I worked in a bookstore and I would always describe this book to parents as “a modern tale written in the style of the classic storytellers, that really engages your child’s mind” while describing it to their children simply as “the best mystery book I’ve ever read”. Works both ways. =)

  4. I LOVE this book (and its sequels) so much! They cannot be put down. The characters are so intriguing and real, the plot full of mysteries, puzzles, and adventures, and the themes are so well done. This is a must read.

  5. Armando says:

    Sounds like an interesting book. I’ll take your recommendation since you have never steered me wrong Christi 😄!!!!

    • Haha! Well, I’m glad you like all of my recommendations, Armando! Thanks for taking the time to read and leave a comment.

      • Armando says:

        I waa going to ask you on Wednesday about your latest publication but found this today lol. I imagine that you have a copy of this book so I can borrow it later on….after I read The Fiddler’s Gun after all 😉

  6. *adds book to sky-high reading list* *sighs* You have piqued my interest, and I am now finely caught. 😉

  7. Great review for an excellent book! One of my all time favorites. 😀
    I see everyone talking about the sequels, but has anyone else here read the prequel??? It is equally enjoyable– especially considering the in-depth glance we get into the Extraordinary Childhood of Nicholas Benedict. *wiggles eye-brows enigmatically*
    @Christi-Eaton

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