The Other Side of the Wall

Philomel. (Other Side). Oct. 2019. 192p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781984813275.
Gr 3-7–Tess and Max Barnes are back for another time-bending mystery in book three of Ephron’s “The Castle in the Mist” series. This time they’re in London with Aunt Evie enjoying a Christmas holiday away from boarding school while their parents “sort things out.” Shortly after arriving at the hotel, they meet a mysterious coachman—who seems oddly familiar to Tess—and the adventure begins. Soon, Tess and Max are seeing peculiar things everywhere, including a boy named Colin who claims to live with his family on the hotel’s previously nonexistent eighth floor. But when Max begins behaving oddly himself, it’s once again up to the intrepid heroine to save the day. It’s difficult to peg the intended audience for this book; chapters are kept short and the language often feels a bit stilted, especially during conversations. But Ephron’s exposition includes a lot of high-level vocabulary. Additionally, the mid-chapter switches between viewpoints could confuse readers. That being said, the plot is nicely paced, starting slow and accelerating to breakneck speed by the end. The story is both charming and vaguely creepy.
VERDICT A fun, if slightly predictable addition to Ephron’s middle grade series. While this title could be read as a standalone, Ephron makes frequent references to events of the previous titles. A recommended purchase for libraries with the first two books in their collections.

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