Friday, June 2, 2017

Mysterium #1: The Black Dragon by Julian Sedgwick

The Black Dragon (Mysterium, #1)My name is Danny Woo, and I don't really know what's going on. Aunt Laura brought me to Hong Kong to see where my mother was born, but now my aunt's been kidnapped. She was writing a story about a violent gang called the Black Dragon, but Zamora and I have heard stories about a super-secret international crime syndicate called the Forty-nine that may be controlling all the gangs in the world. I'm still trying to get over the sudden deaths of my parents, but I'm slowly realizing that my dad may have had a secret life. He was too careful to make a mistake and drown during his most famous escape trick. Isn't it suspicious that my mother died in fire less than a week later? The gas explosion at my school now doesn't feel like an accident. Is someone out to get me? I'm not sure who I can trust in Hong Kong, certainly not the police. What about Sing Sing and the man in the white suit? I must find some way to rescue my aunt.

This book was a pleasant surprise from my local library. Danny's parents were performers in the Mysterium circus, and the book frequently brought up memories from that time. Some were pleasant, but others revealed questions about his parents deaths. Danny learned magic tricks, escape skills, and other circus hints from his father that were used throughout the plot. However, his escapes were literally life or death. Zamora was a dwarf strongman in the circus, and he protects Danny during the frequent dangers. He likes using his muscles, so Danny usually comes up with the safer ideas. The book is full of adventure, as the pair follows clues all over the city. The added twists of a corrupt police force and shady characters caused me to doubt the motives of almost everyone. The leader of the Black Dragon was a bit of a surprise. I'm still not sure why criminals want Danny so bad, so I hope to get more clues in the sequel.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Mysterium #2: The Palace of Memory by Julian Sedgwick

Mysterium: 2: The Palace of MemoryMy name is Sing Sing, and we still don't have any idea why the Forty-Nine want Danny dead. I found him in Barcelona where the Mysterium circus is being revived, and now someone has attempted to kill his best friend Zamora, the strongman dwarf. Danny is convinced the same person who killed his father is responsible, and he thinks decoding his father's messages will help solve the mystery. Danny also thinks someone in the Mysterium is involved; I agree his suspicions about the Klown may be correct. It wasn't until later that we learned a hired assassin has been stalking Danny, and she has never failed an assignment. However, the secret uncovered in his father's hidden stash is a life-changer!

I think followers of Alex Rider and Young James Bond will enjoy this series too. Danny is a normal kid with unusual talents who is caught up in dangerous adventure. He's developed his skills by growing up in the circus family, and his abilities to escape locks, mesmerize people, and notice details come in very handy when solving the mystery. The book doesn't utilize the special weapons of Alex Rider novels, but Danny's talents seem almost magical. Zamora was his main sidekick in the previous book, but Sing Sing fills the role this time. She was raised by an "uncle" and learned to practice kung fu, but she has unknown circus talents too that are useful. She doesn't say much about her family, but this book uncovers a big secret about her mother. The resolution of the plot still doesn't explain why the Forty-Nine are so determined to kill Danny, so it looks like that will be the on-going conflict throughout the series. It looks like the books were actually released in Great Britain, but they're slowly being published now in the United States. I recommend the series, but I'm not sure when the next book will be available.