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Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
Orville Mouse and the Puzzle of the Shattered Abacus: Orville Wellington Mouse, Book 2 is a young adult metaphysical adventure fantasy written by Tom Hoffman. Orville's dream seemed so real. He was deep in the Symocan jungle, trying to enjoy the warm sun and luxuriant foliage, but Sophia seemed obsessed with counting the minutes and even seconds until something or other would happen. He just didn't understand why she was unable to dissociate for a while and relax, but, finally, he gave in to her prodding and challenged her to a race to the top of the volcano. He felt awful gazing into that bubbling liquid heat, the hot air all distorted and wavy as he peered into the volcano. And Sophia was actually determined that they should leave their precarious, yet relatively safe, perch on the rim, and jump into that fiery maelstrom. Sophia reminded him that it was only a dream, and she assured him that it wouldn't hurt, but it took the staunchest adventurer's leap of faith to allow him to clutch Sophia's paw and jump. Waking, Orville was relieved to see that it was, indeed, a dream, but was puzzled by the thick coating of snow that covered his night table. The chilly mess seemed particularly odd considering the jungles and volcano he had just experienced. There had to be a reason, he figured, for these two disparate, yet obviously connected, events. He'd have to discuss it with Sophia.
Tom Hoffman's metaphysical adventure fantasy for young adults, Orville Mouse and the Puzzle of the Shattered Abacus, follows now veteran adventurers Orville and Sophie as they take on their newest assignment as a Metaphysical Adventuring team. Yes, it's the second book in Hoffman's series, and, yes, again, you can read this book on its own, but don't. Seriously. Each of Tom Hoffman's books is a gem, and they fit together to make an astonishingly good literary tapestry of metaphysical adventure, fantasy, science fiction and just a bit of quantum physics. Well, maybe a little more than just a bit, but don't let your lack of mastery of such matters keep you from diving head first, or jumping feet first as Sophie and Orville do, into Hoffman's quirky and most marvelous universe. Orville Mouse and the Puzzle of the Shattered Abacus lets the reader travel to distant planets, solve mysteries, and study the remnants of long-gone civilizations, and you'll be doing it in the finest of companies.
I love seeing how well Orville and Sophia's strengths complement each other. Their banter and laughingly begrudging appreciation of each other's growing gifts is a treat, as is the way each keeps the other from taking themselves too seriously. Watching as the daredevil in Sophia is constantly tugging along the not so sure Orville has to be one of my favorite humorous aspects of this series. Proto, the Rabbiton and the newest addition to Orville’s family, with his love of adventure and rather odd appetite for encountering strange and horrible beasties, is a hoot and a half, especially when one considers his other avocation for baking little frosted cakes while wearing Orville's mom's aprons.
Hoffman's fictional universe, which seemed so limitless in the Bartholomew the Adventurer Series, just keeps on expanding. Each new volume promises metaphysical delights, strange horizons, wormholes and hidden doors into far-off places, and ever more opportunities to learn, grow and experience alongside the adventurers. I'm so pleased with this book -- the characters are first-rate and the plot is marvelous. Orville Mouse and the Puzzle of the Shattered Abacus: Orville Wellington Mouse, Book 2 is most highly recommended.