Spell and Spindle

illus. by Kathrin Honesta. 272p. Random. Jul. 2018. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780399550706.
Gr 5–7—Eleven-year-old Chance is a natural born pessimist in contrast to his eternally upbeat older sister, 13-year-old Constance. Chance is determined not to move to his family's new dream home in the suburbs after his father loses his job as the accountant to the Museum of the Peculiar Arts. Chance has become attached to the Museum, partly because he is serving as an apprentice to the current owner Fortunato. Chance has always admired a marionette named Penny that Fortunato owns and is thrilled when he is allowed to keep Penny after the museum closes. Chance soon realizes that he can communicate with Penny in his mind. Their relationship is abruptly ended when a mysterious stranger breaks into Chance's room and snips Penny's strings. Once Chance discovers the damage, he tries to repair the marionette, but with disastrous results—he winds up accidentally switching bodies with Penny. Penny, now in Chance's body, and Constance (who immediately recognizes it is not her brother in his body) team up and discover the terrible secret that the Museum, Fortunato, and his long-ago apprentice have been hiding. The kids are brave, persistent, and resilient. An additional storyline about missing children ups the creepy factor significantly.
VERDICT A dark and spine-tingling tale for fans of "Goosebumps" looking for something a bit longer and more nuanced.

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