When I think of the Mysterious Benedict Society books the words that come to mind are charming and whimsical. The second installment only increased my enjoyment in the series. This novel begins where the last adventure ended. Mr. Curtain and some of his agents escaped and are being pursued by the government, while the members of the MBS (as I decided to call it so I don’t have to type it out every time) have each been separated and living their own lives. Mr. Benedict has a special surprise to reunite them, and with the permission of their respective parents and guardians, they will be going on another adventure. The adventure takes a turn for the dramatic; however, when Mr B and Number 2 disappear. It is up to Reynie, Sticky, Kate, and Constance find out what has happened, and once again, save the world.
I love these books, not only because they are fun and slightly ridiculous, but because they tackle difficult topics. One of the themes in this installment is why bother fighting where there is so much wickedness? As the children meet some old (and very wicked) acquaintances and find some new friends sometimes the answer seems very unclear. Another difficult theme is belonging. How to find your own place? How to fit in with so many extraordinary people? Another theme is hope. These little dilemmas are interwoven so subtly that one doesn’t feel they are getting some sort of lesson, rather that they are learning right along with the MBS.
The Perilous Journey also answers a few mysterious questions about the brothers Benedict and Curtain as well as adding even more questions to be answered in later books. For example, who is Constance, really? And why does she have telepathic power? I would recommend this book to kids of all ages, and think this would be a great ‘family read’ as soon as children can understand the storyline. I can’t wait to read the next MBS book.