cover image The Whizz Pop Chocolate Shop

The Whizz Pop Chocolate Shop

Kate Saunders. Delacorte, $16.99 (304p) ISBN 978-0-385-74301-3

This entertaining English fantasy from Saunders (Magicalamity) reads as though conjured up by a clever child’s imagination, creating a world where, behind ordinary police and government forces, a Secret Ministry of the Unexplained (SMU) exists to handle goblins, ghosts, and “anything... unexplained that might be a threat to national security.” Eleven-year-old twins Lily and Oz Spoffard are introduced to the SMU by a talking cat when their family inherits, and moves into, their great-great-uncles’ house, which includes the remains of their once-famous chocolate shop. Learning that the chocolate their great-great-uncles made was no ordinary confection, and that one of them—wicked, immortal Isadore—is still alive and trying to supply a dangerous terrorist gang with immortality chocolate, the twins, along with an adventurous new friend, are pulled into the SMU’s quest to find and stop Isadore. A quick pace and intricate plot twists keep excitement high, while the warm family dynamics, unexpected relationships, and thoughtful character development add just the right amount of depth to this enjoyable and moving romp through a magical London underworld. Ages 10–up. (Mar.)