Title: The Name of This Book is Secret
Author: Pseudonymous Bosch
Published by: Usborne
Publication date: 2008
Genres: Mystery; Suspense; Adventure; Magic
This review first appeared on the 5th January on The Guardian Childrens’ Book Website: here
Warning: Do not read this book! …For amongst its strange and alarming contents you will find:
Two extraordinary adventurers…
A missing magician’s diary…
A symphony of smells…
And a deadly secret
But wait, you already know too much! It is too late. I’m afraid nothing will stop you now. Open the book if you must. But, please, tell no one.
Cass is 11 years old and is the female protagonist of the story; she is prepared for every disaster going from floods, to tornadoes and drives everyone crazy with her constant fretting about the next catastrophic calamity that could occur.
Max-Ernest is also 11 years old and his parents are divorced due to not being able to decide whether he should be called Max or Ernest (hence the double-barrelled first name). They live in the same house so Max is able to live a normal-ish childhood with two parents however both parents act as though the other isn’t there and the house is split down the middle with neither parent talking to the other. Max-Ernest has a speech impediment causing him to talk and talk and talk and talk and talk until he is told to shut up and as a result Cass is his only friend.
Cass and Max-Ernest are a match made in heaven as they both have their unique and, er quirky, personalities making them different to the average 11 year-old. Cass with her predicting of the next catastrophe and Max-Ernest with his lack of knowing when to shut up means that they get on like a house on fire even when no one else wants to know them.
An estate agent investigating a dead magician’s house finds a box labelled “a symphony of smells” and gives it to Cass’ grandfathers who investigate strange and mystifying objects, much to Cass’ mother’s dismay. Cass lets her new friend, Max-Ernest, in on the mystery and they begin to work out the mystery of the smells and look around the dead magician’s house. It is whilst they are in the house that they find a secret belonging to the dead magician but have to escape from a young couple who are looking around the house.
The couple then trace Cass and Max-Ernest to their school, but instead of finding them, they find a young artist named Benjamin Blake and Cass decides to be a hero and try to save him. The young couple aren’t what they seem from the outside as they have a goal and won’t stop until they achieve it. Will Cass and Max-Ernest save Benjamin and find out the secret of the dead magician?
Can we just look at the front and back pages of this book to begin with? The book is called “The Name of this Book is Secret”, now if that doesn’t make you want to read it, I don’t know what will. The author’s name is a pseudonym as well, I mean obviously “Pseudonymous Bosch” isn’t the author’s real name; but right from the word go, the author has cleverly built the mystery and suspense that this book incorporates into every single page. On the back page it reads “warning: do not read this book!” and I don’t know about you but that immediately makes me want to read it anyway, because it’s just a book, right? What harm can it do?
Right from page one, Cass and Max-Ernest are such quirky characters that they introduce an element of humour into the book. Cass is paranoid about the next disaster that always seems to be imminent, and Max-Ernest never shuts up. No, seriously. Taking these factors into account, it seems strange that they make such a good team to work out a mystery. Cass seems like the last person who would want to put herself in any danger considering she’s always working herself up over absolutely nothing. And Max-Ernest, surely you’d hear him from a mile off, I mean he just talks. And talks. And talks. But somehow, they work together as a dream team to solve the mystery of the dead magician.
I loved this book, from beginning to end; it has constant suspense and leaves you on cliff hangers at the end of chapters causing quite a few late nights/early mornings because it is very hard to put down once you begin. This book isn’t quite aimed at my age group (young adult) but I still enjoyed the story and plotline.
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