by Garth Nix & Sean Williams
Recommended Ages: 10+
In this installment, Grandma X couldn't let her troubletwisters in on the crucial secrets if she wanted to. A suspicious car accident has landed her in the hospital, where she is being held for observation and drugged into a stupor. While Grandma's cats and another Warden patrol the wards, the twins' father shows up and sends them on a secret mission to retrieve an item from a local castle, something important that is at risk of falling into the hands of The Evil, now that the castle's owner has died and his estate needs to be disposed of.
Jack and Jaide tag along with a local book dealer, who is evaluating the castle's library. But as they search through the castle, all they turn up is more mysteries. What exactly is this Card of Translocation that their father wants them to find? Where could it be hidden? Why is it so important? And when a traumatized parrot points its feathery finger at their father's photo and declares him a killer, who should they believe?
Alert readers who have followed the series this far may find themselves a step ahead of the Shield twins as they search for answers to these and other questions. The clues have been there since the first book. What seems suspicious from our perspective may look different from close up, in the middle of all the confusing situations these kids have to juggle. They are trying to keep Warden business out of sight of their mother and their friends at school, especially a girl named Tara who has already had her memories adjusted once. They have their concerns about Rodeo Dave, the book guy. They have to protect a bird, who is also a valuable witness, from a hungry cat, who is also a member of Grandma X's team. They have to hide the bird, the cell phone their father gave them, and the talking death mask they brought home from the castle, from their innocent mother. And since they can't expect anybody to tell them what they need to know, they have to figure everything out for themselves—often in sneaky ways. And so it comes about, almost without their noticing, that they are keeping secrets from the very people they need to trust. Naturally, that is a foothold from which The Evil will take advantage.
The title of this book is not very distinctive. But the tale that unfolds beneath it is full of fun, magic, and spooky danger. It features a castle crammed with interesting and sinister objects, like a collection of whaling memorabilia, suits of armor that come to life, and a menagerie full of possessed animals. It also conceals a powerful object so well hidden that the person who hid it could search for it very urgently and never find it. Why it was hidden, why The Evil wants it, and how the twins can keep it out of The Evil's clutches one dreadful night when the wards collapse, are mystery enough to keep young readers, and the young at heart, happily focused on each turn of the page. And they will be just as happy to learn that there is more to come in this series. A fourth book, titled The Missing, has already been released.