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Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
The Menagerie of Jenkins Bailey is a fantasy adventure novel for children and preteens written by Matthew S. Cox. Piper Bailey was not at all enthusiastic about her family’s sudden change in fortune. She loved the little house they lived in and had friends she cared about. She wasn’t concerned with the small size of her bedroom or the fact that her clothes were from the thrift shop. Piper and her parents had done just fine in Syracuse, but now they were moving far away to some strange old house her dad had inherited from his father. His father had left him and his mom when he was a one-year-old, so the man had been a stranger. This made it really rather surprising that he would leave a large house and a virtual fortune to the son he never saw or seemed to care about. Piper’s mom and dad were excited, even if the move meant her mom would be commuting long hours to the school where she taught. Piper didn’t share in their mood at all, even when she saw the grand and imposing edifice that would now be their home. As they drove through the gates and entered the well-tended gardens, something seemed wrong to her. When she looked at the house and noticed a curtain moving upstairs, those feelings intensified.
Matthew S. Cox’s fantasy adventure novel for children and preteens, The Menagerie of Jenkins Bailey, is an exciting and original tale wherein Piper and her new friend, Tristan, explore a decidedly spooky mansion that has Piper remembering the haunted hotel in Stephen King’s The Shining at times. Cox’s tale is a grand mythological adventure complete with hidden passageways, things that go bump in the night and some very strange collectibles in the basement. I particularly enjoyed the coming of age aspects of this story as two relatively sheltered kids encounter the impossibilities that are part and parcel of Jenkins Bailey’s house, and grow in strength and confidence as a result. All manner of mysteries and marvels await the reader within this book, and it’s great fun. The Menagerie of Jenkins Bailey is most highly recommended.