[The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Riddle of Ages]: A Review

Hi all,

I am thrilled to (finally!) be bringing you my review of The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Riddle of Ages by Trenton Lee Stewart. This is about a month overdue and I can’t wait to share my thoughts on the finale of this fantastic series.

I love the Mysterious Benedict Society!!

I was a bit late joining the fan club of the Mysterious Benedict Society. But I waited with anticipation for this last book like all you fans out there. I first discovered this series through the Read Aloud Revival Podcast. When I bought the first book on a whim at a library book sale for exactly $1, I was intrigued by the series but knew almost nothing specific about it. Then I finished book one. And promptly bought books 2 & 3 along with the prequel novel.

Check out my reviews of the other books in the series:

Initial Thoughts:

  • It took me some time to get into this story. There is a lot of preparation for the big adventure and it was a bit slow for me. Perhaps part of that was the gap in time between books 3 & 4. Everyone is older (and a bit more teenage-ish) so that was different to get used to.
  • What makes this book so good is the fantastic plot and the focus of the characters on their mission. There were a few moments when I worried we would get distracted by the future or who liked who, but when the adventure got intense, this book reads like the rest of the series and I love it.
  • Just like the other book titles of the series, this one has multiple layers of meaning and interpretation. What is the riddle of ages? Read the novel to find out more.
  • Also, I love that Constance wears green plaid suits all the time.

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According to Goodreads, “The Mysterious Benedict Society is a modern classic, drawing comparisons to J.K. Rowling and Roald Dahl, named a Time magazine “Best Young Adult Book of All Time,” and selling over three million copies. Some time has passed since the inimitable quartet of Reynie, Sticky, Kate, and Constance have had a mission together. But with the arrival of a new Society member — and a new threat — they must reunite to face dilemmas more dangerous than ever before, including the villainous Mr. Curtain and a telepathic enemy tracking their every move, not to mention a dramatically preteen Constance.

In its triumphant return, the Society encounters all new challenges, but the series’ trademark sly humor, sweet camaraderie, hairsbreadth escapes, and mind-bending puzzles are all as engaging as ever. Fans of the series will be thrilled to see the Society has grown up a little with them, while a new generation of readers will fall in love with these irresistible adventures.

I feel like it’s hard to write a sequel that is so distant from the previous books in timeline but is as enjoyable as the other books in the series. For example, the Penderwicks book 5 was just not quite as good as the first 4 for me because the characters got too old and distant from the plot. I felt like the older Penderwick siblings were not well developed in that later book. Not so for the Mysterious Benedict Society. The characters are as feisty, intelligent, and endearing as ever. And in many ways, they mostly feel like they are still the little kids we met and rooted for in the original book. I was glad to see that while they are all working through big decisions about life and their futures, they also come to realize how important friendship and family are.

Ultimately, what I love most about this series are the characters. The journeys they all go on in this particular book are realistic. Reynie finally showed some flaws which I appreciate. He feels more real this way. Sticky is great. Love that he is trying to use his given name but it doesn’t work. Kate is even more impressive than in the original book with her skydiving, running world record times and her own dart gun. Yet she still has to make sacrifices and doesn’t win them all. And of course, Constance is fantastic. I am impressed how Stewart uses the telepathy to build the story but it doesn’t take over. There are rules about what Constance can do and how much she is capable of. Plus preteen Constance is hilarious. And I loved the addition of Tai Li. I think he makes this book fit with the rest of the series because he is so much younger and sees things from a child’s perspective. He is so darling. And of course I love love love Mr Benedict who proves his genius once again 🙂

I did not think Stewart could surprise me again. But he did! I didn’t think he could possibly have more crazy twists up his sleeve. But he does! The first three books in this series set a rather high bar for engaging plots. And considering how many years passed both in the story and in the publication of this book (10 years since book #3 came out!), I was blown away by this story. The plot is full of surprising twists and turns that had me turning pages as fast as I could and staying up late to finish the whole thing. And just when I thought it couldn’t get better, we get the climactic end. The ending is crazy good!!! I love a great twist like that. No more here–go read for yourself.

A great finale to a great series! So so so happy to have discovered this fantastic series and feeling rather bittersweet about finishing my reading of the adventures of Reynie, Sticky, Kate, and Constance. There is a lot of good closure in this book. But I also just want to hear more about the society! Sad to finish it for good, but I will definitely be back for more rereads especially with my kids in a few years. Thanks MBS!

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Have you read The Mysterious Benedict Society series yet?
Which are your favorite books in the series?
Any recommendations of series like this one?

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