Home > Book, Book Review, Children, Fantasy, Reviews > Book Review – The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart

Book Review – The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart

Book Description:

“Are you a gifted child looking for special opportunities?”

When this peculiar ad appears in the newspaper, dozens of children enroll to take a series of mysterious, mind-bending tests. (And you, dear reader, can test your wits right alongside them.) But in the end just four very special children will succeed. Their challenge: to go on a secret mission that only the most intelligent and resourceful children could complete. To accomplish it they will have to go undercover at the Learning Institute for the Very Enlightened, where the only rule is that there are no rules.

As our heroes face physical and mental trials beyond their wildest imaginations, they have no choice but to turn to each other for support. But with their newfound friendship at stake, will they be able to pass the most important test of all?

Welcome to the Mysterious Benedict Society.


My first thought on finishing The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart was: Thank goodness there’s two more books in the trilogy to look forward to! And I can’t wait to discover what further adventures Mr Stewart has in store for us 🙂

Honestly, I felt funny borrowing The Mysterious Benedict Society from my niece, but she was really proud to share something of hers that she loved with me 🙂 But I really liked the cover and I loved the book description, so I thought: why not? Here’s to reading a children’s book! And after reading it, I can wholeheartedly recommend this enchanting story about four orphaned/abandoned/runaway children who have been tasked with the mission to save the world.

11-year-old orphan Reynie Muldoon answers a newspaper ad for “Are you a gifted child looking for Special Opportunities?” – and hence jumps into the greatest (and most perilous) adventure of his life, and gets life-long friends and a family-of-sorts into the bargain too! I loved Reynie’s character – I wished I was half the boy he was when I was growing up for sure. And I also loved the other members of the ‘Mysterious Benedict Society’ – the nervous Sticky Washington gifted with a photographic memory, the circus performer / runaway Kate Weatherhill (aka the Great Kate Weather Machine) and even the extremely trying and infuriating Constance Contraire (she eventually proves her worth in the end!). I thought that Mr Stewart was brilliant in creating these wonderful children characters. Unfortunately, his adult characters pale in comparison – especially his villain Mr. Curtain who wasn’t ever really that scary.

Where The Mysterious Benedict Society really shines are the puzzlers and mini-mysteries that Reynie and his friends get to solve (and we the readers with them). My niece and nephew told me that they had a lot of fun trying to figure things out on their own using the same clues and then finding out how Reynie (or the other kids) solved it.

The book isn’t perfect of course. The plot itself is nothing new – a mad man is out to take over the world, and somehow, only these four kids stand between him and the rest of the world (that’s pretty much the usual Disney movie plot, right?) and many things that occur in the book strain the boundaries of credibility. And maybe because this is written for children, nothing really too horrible (although there’s some pretty ewww parts) or scary happens – which I thought was a pity, because I think that children would find it fun to be a little scared. For example, the character Sticky supposedly has a traumatic experience when he’s sent to a ‘Waiting Room’ for punishment, but we only get that info secondhand. I thought it would’ve been much better had there been a chapter written so we could follow Sticky as he went through his harrowing experience. I have to say that there were parts in the middle that felt dragging / unnecessary to me (Mr Stewart could’ve used a better editor), but the book does finish with a flourish, with a pulse-pounding face-off between the good guys and the bad guys. My inner child certainly enjoyed herself very much! 🙂

The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart is available on Amazon as a Kindle edition ($6.99), Hardcover edition ($12.23), Paperback edition ($6.99) and Audible Audio Edition ($3.95). *Or you may choose to get the entire trilogy The Mysterious Benedict Society Collection at $9.99.

The eBook is also available at B&N, Sony eBookstore, and iBookstore.

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  1. Espana
    April 5, 2012 at 3:32 am

    What I find cool about this book is that there are real puzzles, riddles, and problems you can solve for yourself. Some details are a little bit out there, but this series has a permanent spot on my Favorites shelf.

  1. August 10, 2011 at 1:02 am

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