The Books of Elsewhere: The Strangers

by Jacqueline West
ages: 9+
First sentence: “Houses are good at keeping secrets.”
Support your local independent bookstore: buy it there!
Others in the series:The ShadowsSpellbound, The Second Spy

I’m going to be honest. At this point in the series, if it hadn’t been nominated for the Cybils panel I’m on, I wouldn’t have read it. Because I feel like the series is kind of dragging on. Just how many more times can Olive go up against Annabelle McMartin in order to save the house? How many threads can not be wrapped up by the end of a book? Why can’t they find Morton’s parents? And how completely dense are Olive’s?

In this one, some neighbors show up: a Brilliant Professor married to a Slightly Batty Medium (it’s too bad she wasn’t a Small Medium at Large), and an Incompetent Apprentice. They weasel their way into Olive’s life when her parents get kidnapped on Halloween. The main focus of this one is figuring out where Olive’s parents are and getting them back, while still protecting the house from Nasty Annabelle.  As far as that goes, I called who the Bad (or Misguided) Guys were early on, and so it was just a matter of time until Olive caught up to what I already knew.

It’s not that it was a poorly written book — it wasn’t. It’s just that the premise is getting old by book 4, and even the talking cats that were so much fun in book one aren’t making me laugh. And to be totally, completely honest: I skimmed this one, mostly, because I just wasn’t interested in Olive anymore.

(Just for the record: because this is a Cybils nominee, I’ve been asked to make sure y’all know this is my opinion only, and not that of the panel.)

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