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Reviewed by Ruffina Oserio for Readers' Favorite
Unfortunate Events is the second book in the Abby & Holly Series by Janice Spina. A novel with paranormal activities, well-crafted for young readers, it has strong themes of family, friendship, and adventure. Readers are introduced to Abby and Holly, cousins whose bond is very strong. Holly is with Abby’s family at the haunted Victorian house. She is dealing with unfortunate situations and is rather sad. When her parents come home on a visit from abroad, it should be a happy experience for Holly, but her mom gets sick. It is in this dire moment of vulnerability that Holly gets support from Abby. Abby’s Aunt Jane and Uncle Bob and the two ghosts who live in the house, Felicity and Minerva, are of great help as well. And then there are Davey and Derek Donato, the twin detectives who are their friends.
Unfortunate Events is beautiful and told in a tone that is engaging and compassionate. I enjoyed the way Janice Spina explores the relationship between the characters, developing themes of family and friendship with skill. While readers will follow the conversations and want to see Holly overcome her challenges, there are finer values that are ingeniously communicated and etiquette that young readers will learn. This author shows readers what it is like to be friends and sisters, and demonstrates the power of positive attitudes like respect, courtesy, mutual support, and compassion. The story is filled with realism, the characters are deeply human, and the plot features scenes that are focused and enjoyable. It is a great read, indeed.