Stanley Brambles and the Lost City
Summer has ended, and Stanley is disappointed to begin another dull school year. Even worse, his nemesis Mrs. Drabdale is teaching his class again, and he is tormented by a new school bully. Things begin to get odd, however, when Stanley loses his temper and somehow injures the bully so badly he needs stitches. Then Stanley and his friends wander into the fake jungle of the natural history museum and find themselves in another world altogether. The trio is surprised to encounter an old friend who escorts them from the increasingly dangerous jungle of Verduria. During their journey, they also meet Ryuno, a Marusai apprentice who’s been investigating the evil that is agitating the jungle’s inhabitants and causing the creatures to grow to unprecedented sizes. It doesn’t take long before the motley crew has been unwittingly co-opted into the quest to find a mythical pyramid with an ancient weapon while battling against the darkness that’s seeping from the jungle.
Stanley Brambles and the Lost City is the second of a series, and suffers from the common problems of sequels. Characters from the previous book reappear inexplicably, even when thought to be dead. Perhaps it is the protagonists’ experiences from their first that have inoculated them from being surprised by the weird and unexplained; they were completely unfazed to find themselves in another world, for example. That said, The Lost City is an exciting adventure story that will appeal to the middle grades audience. It has all the obligatory elements: problems at school, a burgeoning love interest, and a comedian best friend, in addition to some magical devices unique to Verduria. While Stanley’s sense of destiny felt heavy-handed, his ability to wield shadows fascinated me. Like most series books, The Lost City ended unresolved; I hope Spendlove will pursue the shadow-power plot line in the third book.
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