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Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite
The Curious Conundrum of Charlemagne Crosse is a work of fiction in the mystery, suspense, and historical adventure subgenres. It is intended for the young adult reading audience and was penned by author PJ McIlvaine. Set against the backdrop of an alternate Victorian London, the story follows Charlemagne Crosse, a resourceful and intelligent young woman who has endured a challenging upbringing after the mysterious disappearance of her parents. When she unexpectedly regains her wealth and freedom, Charlemagne returns to her ancestral home and is thrust into a world of intrigue and secrets. As Charlemagne delves into her father's inventions and the quest to contact the afterlife, the narrative unfolds with a perfect balance of suspense and discovery.
Author PJ McIlvaine's storytelling is enchanting, with a vividly described setting that immerses readers in the Victorian era with just the right amount of detail and atmospheric touches. The characters, especially Charlemagne and her enigmatic Uncle Alistair, are well-developed and engaging, with convincing dialogue that sounds appropriate to the era but is still accessible and easy for YA readers to enjoy. The pacing keeps you eagerly turning the pages, and the plot twists are both unexpected and satisfying, offering a delightful blend of mystery, adventure, and a touch of the supernatural that always has a surprise in store. For example, the concept of using a solar eclipse as a pivotal event in the plot was so inventive and creative, like nothing I’ve seen in these kinds of novels before. Overall, The Curious Conundrum of Charlemagne Crosse is a charming and imaginative tale that combines historical elements with supernatural mystery, making it an enjoyable read for anyone who loves a good adventure with a strong and resourceful female protagonist.