Siblings Amy and Dan Cahill never expected to inherit anything but a little money when their wealthy grandmother died. They were her favorites, so why shouldn’t they? All these other people at the funeral don’t seem to even be related to the dead woman. But both are shocked and surprised when they, along with select few other ‘relatives’, are given the choice to have either one million dollars, or a clue. A clue that supposedly will lead to unimaginable power and fortune.
Of course, how could the two orphans turn down the opportunity to get away from their boring aunt and travel around the world? There are 39 clues in all, but they are only given the first clue to many in a dangerous game. Each of the other clues must be fought for and earned, through blood, sweat, tears, brawn, and brains. With power-hungry cousins, aunts and uncles, Amy and Dan are pushed to use every resource possible just to survive.
First off, I started to write individual posts for each book, but then I decided they were all alike enough (and there were too many) to include them all in one post. Sorry to all who have already read about this!
What is great about these books is they are never boring. Traversing the world, these kids are always searching through history to help them with the clues. While some of the books are a little more exciting and danger-filled than others, all are about even in the adventure aspect. It is sort of like the Amazing Race meets The Westing Game.
I would definitely describe this book as the next step up from Magic Tree House for kids who might want something a little more suspenseful from that series, but not necessarily creepy. While there definitely are some scary parts in each book (hanging over the water with sharks right below them, trapped in a room and running out of air, climbing in a coffin on top of a skeleton to hide), the authors have an incredible way of making something a little less disgusting than it actually is. They are good at not elaborating on the gross.
Something I’ve always appreciated about them is they are fairly clean in the language and romance department. Other than name calling and a small crush, that is about it.
The only thing that bothers me is that the series is written by several different authors. I didn’t even notice until afterwards that several of the books were more well-written than others, which made them less consistent. Of course, your kids probably won’t even think twice. The other problem with multiple creators is that it felt like in each book, they were trying to out-do the last one in the ‘that was the scariest thing I’ve ever done!’ moment. Towards the end of the series, they definitely get more creative in coming up with peril-stricken scenarios and even seem to go out of their way to include them.
We listened to these on audio, and the narrator is pretty good. The voices are very good, and some narrators suck at accents and differentiating voices, but he pulls most of them off fairly well.
Here is the order in which they are to be read:
#1: The Maze of Bones, by Rick Riordan
#2: One False Note, by Gordan Korman
#3: The Sword Thief, by Peter Lerangis
#4: Beyond the Grave, by Jude Watson
#5: The Black Circle, by Patrick Carman
#6: In Too Deep, by Jude Watson
#7: The Viper’s Nest, by Peter Lerangis
#8: The Emperer’s Code, by Gordon Korman
#9: Storm Warning, by Linda Sue Park
#10: Into the Gauntlet, by Margaret Peterson Haddix
Overall Rating: 4/5
Violence: 4/10 (Some books are less)
Audience: Ages 8 and up? Unless you have particularly sensitive kids.