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Lucinda's Secret: The Spiderwick Chronicles #3    by Tony DiTerlizzi & Holly Black order for
Lucinda's Secret
by Tony DiTerlizzi
Order:  USA  Can
Simon & Schuster, 2003 (2003)

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* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

I listened to the first two Spiderwick Chronicles episodes in an audiobook version, so this was the first of the books I've seen. I love the old-fashioned look (and feel) of the cover and illustrations. And, like the previous volumes, this one makes a quick and easy read for middle school readers.

The story opens on Jared Grace turning his clothes inside out, in an attempt to protect himself from a plague of Thimbletack's mean pranks - the boggart is still angry with him for taking the Seeing Stone. Simon is busy feeding the ailing griffin raw meat with corn flakes, and Mallory angers Jared by announcing that they should 'get rid of that stupid book', the Field Guide, which has put them all in danger.

This starts an argument, only resolved by a decision to consult Aunt Lucinda (she's the one in the lunatic asylum). She warns them about the house and also against eating faery food (that's what caused all her problems), even though it 'tasted like a song you can't quite put a name to'. But she also gives them something that might placate Thimbletack.

They can't simply destroy the Field Guide and they don't want to give it to the goblins, so they try to find out what happened to Great-Uncle Arthur. A map from his Library prompts them to set out on an expedition and encounters with an enigmatic phooka - the 'Black Dog of the Night' - a skittish unicorn, and powerful elves who also want Arthur's book.

Though Lucinda's Secret is not quite as exciting as the first two episodes, it sets the scene for further fun and thrills in the next ones - and Jared, who still has issues in dealing with anger, tricks the elves in a clever fashion. I wonder what they will do in retaliation and what other strange fey creatures we will meet?

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