The Uncanny Express is a middle grade novel written by Kara LaReau and illustrated by Jen Hill. This is the second book in The Unintentional Adventures of the Bland Sisters series. I was very excited about the opportunity to read this book with my girls because we enjoyed reading The Jolly Regina, which is the first book in the series.
After their pirate adventure in the first book, Jaundice and Kale are looking forward to returning to their bland lives sitting at home, darning socks, and eating cheese sandwiches. Their plans are thrown off-kilter when they are directed to go to the train station to meet their aunt, and inadvertently end up on a train speeding off to the Uncanny Valley.
Jaundice and Kale agree to help a glamorous magician and serve as her assistants, but then she disappears- even though the train never made any stops. Luckily, one of the other passengers on the train is the famous detective Hugo Fromage. Can he help solve the mystery of the missing magician?
My girls are in fifth grade and third grade, and they love reading books. They loved the pirate book, and they were looking forward to finding out what was going to happen to Jaundice and Kale. One of their favorite things about the first book was that each chapter began with a dictionary entry. They liked that this tradition continued, albeit in a new way. Each chapter began with an excerpt from the girls’ book of household tips or their magician’s manual.
This story is quirky and fun, and it is clearly a spoof of Murder on the Orient Express. That said, it did not hold my girls’ attention as much as the first book. I think, however, this is more a matter of personal preference. As an adult reader, I think the mystery was very well constructed, and there were some surprises that none of us saw coming.
I would recommend The Uncanny Valley. I do think that readers need to read The Jolly Regina before tackling this one. It provides valuable background information, as well as a sense of the girls’ general recalcitrance. The ending sets up a third book, and we’re certainly looking forward to what happens to the Bland sister next!
I received a digital copy of this book from Netgalley/the publisher in exchange for an honest review.