The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Riddle of Ages
Little, Brown puts on its thinking cap for The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Riddle of Ages by Trenton Lee Stewart, reuniting the characters from this series to complete an urgent new mission

The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Riddle of Ages Details

TitleThe Mysterious Benedict Society and the Riddle of Ages
Author
ReleaseJan 1st, 1970
Rating
GenreChildrens, Middle Grade, Mystery, Fiction

The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Riddle of Ages Review

  • Lindsey (Books for Christian Girls)
    January 1, 1970
    Did I just finish the book—the book I’ve waited seven years for—in less than five hours? Oops.Let’s first talk about my overall excitement, eagerness, and also nervousness about this fourth book. I first read this series when I was about ten and loved it. Book #1 will always have a special place in my heart that is shown through my fangirling and owning approximately half a dozen copies of the first book. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy the second and third book—I definitely did—but it’s the fi Did I just finish the book—the book I’ve waited seven years for—in less than five hours? Oops.Let’s first talk about my overall excitement, eagerness, and also nervousness about this fourth book. I first read this series when I was about ten and loved it. Book #1 will always have a special place in my heart that is shown through my fangirling and owning approximately half a dozen copies of the first book. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy the second and third book—I definitely did—but it’s the first book and Mr. Benedict’s story that I cannot read fast enough. In preparation of this fourth book, I decided to reread this classic series and I’d like to say that even at ten years later, I truly do love this series. Because of my great fondness, I was definitely nervous about this fourth book: What if it didn’t feel right? What if I was disappointed? Would it be weird to see the characters a bit older? I think these fears were valid and I did read this newest addition on pins and needles.However, I’m quite glad to say that I did really enjoy this novel. It was just as clean as the previous books and had all the same suspense and action fellow fans of the series will notice. There are a few new faces in “The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Riddle of Ages” and while I do personally think the ending was a little rushed, I really enjoyed it and it was oh-so-special to see the much loved characters. It was fascinating to see Renyie, Kate, and Sticky all around my current age now and dealing with their emotions towards their friends and what is next in their lives.The best way I can think to end this happy review is to say how absolutely lovely it was to see The Mysterious Benedict Society again and though it wasn’t my favorite in the series, it was just so good to see them all again.Original review:I literally cannot contain my excitement for this book! Elementary school Lindsey is thriving! :D
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  • Els
    January 1, 1970
    It was interesting? Admittedly, I wasn't in the perfect MBS mood, but it was charming as always (and it's grand to be back!) I laughed so many times, and this one managed to hit on growing up - the same terrors I'm going through - in all the right places. This, and everything Trenton Lee Stewart, will always be a favorite, but somehow this one didn't quite make it to the top. Maybe it's the fact that Kate doesn't carry her bucket anymore, or that I found the riddles boring (I'm not saying they'r It was interesting? Admittedly, I wasn't in the perfect MBS mood, but it was charming as always (and it's grand to be back!) I laughed so many times, and this one managed to hit on growing up - the same terrors I'm going through - in all the right places. This, and everything Trenton Lee Stewart, will always be a favorite, but somehow this one didn't quite make it to the top. Maybe it's the fact that Kate doesn't carry her bucket anymore, or that I found the riddles boring (I'm not saying they're easy, (in fact I only solved one) but they're dull.) ANYWAY. I'll binge the whole series sometime when I'm in a true MBS mood, and I'll probably love it twice as much. Unfortunately, my MBS, along with my The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict, which I desperately want to reread now) are packed deep in moving boxes. Phooey on moving & also my own methods of getting through my TBR.
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  • Aria
    January 1, 1970
    AHHH FINALLY AT LONG LAST! It definitely lived up to my expectations, although, I think the other ones were a bit better. :)
  • raffaela
    January 1, 1970
    Release Date: SEPTEMBER 24, 2019.Amazon synopsis: "Since The Mysterious Benedict Society debuted twelve years ago, the series has become a modern classic, drawing comparisons to J.K. Rowling and Roald Dahl 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, i Release Date: SEPTEMBER 24, 2019.Amazon synopsis: "Since The Mysterious Benedict Society debuted twelve years ago, the series has become a modern classic, drawing comparisons to J.K. Rowling and Roald Dahl 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."*screams*
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  • Megan {A Barefoot Gal}
    January 1, 1970
    HOORAY. I'm still a tad confused, and confused if I am confused or not... but that probably has something to do with the fact that I read it in about five hours. AHH I LOVE THIS SERIES. I was actually really happy that I got to see the characters grown up! It was interesting how you didn't know what some of what the characters already knew (at least I didn't, again that could be because I missed something?) because I hadn't seen that as much in the other books, but it turned out great! I LOVED I HOORAY. I'm still a tad confused, and confused if I am confused or not... but that probably has something to do with the fact that I read it in about five hours. AHH I LOVE THIS SERIES. I was actually really happy that I got to see the characters grown up! It was interesting how you didn't know what some of what the characters already knew (at least I didn't, again that could be because I missed something?) because I hadn't seen that as much in the other books, but it turned out great! I LOVED IT. I wasn't a huge fan of the new member, but it didn't bother me a ton.
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  • anya
    January 1, 1970
    The ghost of my former elementary school self and my current self are both screaming in perfect synchronicity right nowINEEDTHISBOOK
  • Haven
    January 1, 1970
    I. AM. SO. PUMPED. FOR. THIS. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Middle school Haven is extremely happy right now... I WAS NOT EXPECTING THIS this made my day!!!!!! ACK!!!
  • Aiden Heavilin
    January 1, 1970
    **Spoilers ahead**Wow, this hurts.The first "Mysterious Benedict Society" novel is so good its almost unfair to other books. There are many things you can enjoy as a child that then fade as you grow older, that first novel is not one of them. It remains a beautifully plotted and paced story; I love the atmospheric dystopia, citizens of an anonymous city trapped in a vaguely defined political "Emergency", a mysterious academy on Nomansan Island, an exiled genius recruiting a team of children to i **Spoilers ahead**Wow, this hurts.The first "Mysterious Benedict Society" novel is so good its almost unfair to other books. There are many things you can enjoy as a child that then fade as you grow older, that first novel is not one of them. It remains a beautifully plotted and paced story; I love the atmospheric dystopia, citizens of an anonymous city trapped in a vaguely defined political "Emergency", a mysterious academy on Nomansan Island, an exiled genius recruiting a team of children to infiltrate the heart of darkness that is "The Learning Institute for the Very Enlightened." I love the nightmare nursery-rhyme classes and the horrific secrets of the academy, "The Waiting Room" of sludge and insects, the Drapeweed Traps if you stray too far off the path. There is a demented fairy-tale madness to the first novel; Jackson and Jillson, rhymes and riddles... and this old-time atmosphere is married to a steampunk aesthetic and a truly heartwarming story of adventure and friendship. "The Mysterious Benedict Society" is like a perfect brew of Roald Dahl and Franz Kafka, a gripping, engaging, moving story which evokes, chapter to chapter, nearly every emotion one could ask from a book. It is an adventure in its purest form, and I treasure its sheer creativity.Creativity is something that would diminish, slightly, during the following two installments, although they had their moments. I loved the European Treasure Hunt of "Perilous Journey", the terrifying fight in the abandoned town, the mysterious "Duskwort Papers"... It didn't have the magic of the first novel, but it was an admirable sequel. "Prisoner's Dillema" again represented a slight drop-off in quality, but it was still leagues ahead of its competition. And then the prequel "The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict" somehow even surpassed the first novel in the series. "Extraordinary Education" is, in my mind, a perfect novel, the final third of which is almost emotionally overwhelming. It's more than just a children's book, it's a masterpiece.All of this, not to mention the fact that Trenton Lee Stewart's first novel "Flood Summer", (an adult novel with nothing to do with the Mysterious Benedict Society) is.... uh.... my favorite book of all time, might have raised my expectations too high for "The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Riddle of Ages."But... man, I did not expect it to be this bad. Going into the novel, I was looking forwards to the riddles and escapades and adventures, the twisty plot and the comraderie between the team. I was looking forwards to every chapter introducing some new and clever twist or idea. But it seems Stewart's creativity and passion for the series has run out, which I can hardly blame him for. Two exemplary novels and two very good ones is a good enough track record to cement the Benedict books as one of the best children's series of all time... but still. Wow.Almost nothing happens in "Riddle of Ages". And a slow pace has always been a feature of Stewart's novels, the lengthy testing scenes at the beginning of the first novel, the opening scenes in the house of "Prisoner's Dillema." Yet in those previous novels, there is always a strong undercurrent of suspense and anxiety pressing the plot forwards even through pages of quiet conversations. During the first 200 pages of "Riddle of Ages", almost nothing happens. Only one character even *leaves the house* for the first half of the novel. Pacing is one of the main problems. The previous novels spaced the story out over weeks, even months of action, allowing for a real sense of scale and time. The events of "Riddle of Ages" occur within exactly two days, which comes out to about *200 pages a day*. This leads to the story seeming both rushed and dragged out. Almost nothing happens, but it takes forever when it does happen.The actual story itself is immensely disappointing. A group of Ten Men are attempting to break Mr. Curtain out of prison. Okay, that would be a good first few chapters maybe to set off a new story, but that's the *whole plot*. The entire book occurs in two locations, Mr. Benedict's house and the prison on Nomansan Island. For the first 200 or so pages, the society sits around talking, explaining, and summarizing days and days of backstory that could have been *shown* rather than told. It annoys me to no end when the exposition that characters explain during team meeting scenes would have made a better story than the *actual plot of the book*.After this interminable opening half, the society go to the prison on Nomansan Island to stop the Ten Men and save Mr. Benedict. Nearly every scene during this half of the book consists of technobabble and standing around in dark hallways. Gone are the inventive locales of "Prisoner's Dillema", the secret passages of the original novel, the gothic mansion of secrets in "Extraordinary Education." This entire book except for one or two scenes takes place indoors in hallways. This book feels like a low budget movie that couldn't afford to shoot on interesting sets. I remember a hilariously awful description of two Ten Men avoiding Milligan's tranquilizer darts by moving left and right as if in a "lethal dance". This is described as something going on in the background as Kate attends to a different task. Also, this is probably the best scene in the book, which might tell you something about the quality of the surrounding scenes.This book possesses no magic, very little creativity, and an extreme reliance on nostalgia to evoke emotion. The only true emotions I felt during this book came with a few cameos of characters from "Extraordinary Education." In other words, the best parts of this book were when it was reminding me of other, better books.I'm honestly shocked by just how poorly written, uneventful and *boring* this book is. Trenton Lee Stewart has honestly never let me down before. Even his novel "The Secret Keepers", although deeply flawed, was a fun and unique story. Stewart is truly one of my favorite writers. Like I mentioned earlier, his novel "Flood Summer" is my *favorite book ever written by anyone ever*Maybe this book was a contractual obligation, or maybe it was just written to pay the bills. I don't know."Riddle of Ages" does not make me think less of the previous novels, nor does it make me think less of Stewart as a writer; not even a little bit. This is a misstep, to be sure, but, man, the first Mysterious Benedict Society book really is just *that good*. So is "Riddle of Ages" an example of wasted potential.Honestly, I don't think so. "Prisoner's Dillema" was imperfect, but the ending was honestly excellent, leaving just a perfect amount of ambiguity and wrapping up the most important threads. There was no point to continue the story, the story was over. And it's weird to me that all this novel does is undo the"Prisoner's Dillema" ending and then quickly return it to the same state of equilibrium again. Maybe here's a better way of stating that. In "Riddle of Ages", all four of the society's members are looking at different, personal paths. Reynie has been accepted to dozens of top universities, Sticky has been offered the opportunity to head up one of the top science labs in the country, Kate is becoming a secret agent for her father's agency, etc. Each are afraid to pursue these routes though, because they know it would mean the end of the Society. The arc this seems to be setting up is an acceptance that people change with time and that you can't keep holding on to the fun things of the past. I was looking forwards to a scene of Reynie heading to Harvard, Sticky entering the laboratory on his first day, etc. This would have been an emotionally powerful way to end the story.But at the end of "Riddle of Ages", the society ends up agreeing to *delay or even cancel entirely* these personal paths, and to stay together at "home", which seems like not only a tepid, pathetic conclusion to what could have been an emotionally powerful, meaningful story arc, but also a metaphor for the novel at large. This book is a refusal to move forwards and move beyond, a story that relies entirely on nostalgia and faded laurels to court reader goodwill. In short, it's a story that like the characters at the end, refuses to grow up.
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  • Mary
    January 1, 1970
    Wow. That had to be one of the most unique books in this series. The originality of this series was one of the things that initially drew me in, but the characters kept my interest. I love them all, but Kate stole my heart. She is daring and adventurous, but one of the kindest and caring ones as well. She's not abrasive, she skydives, ground-dives, is extremely fast, can pick locks, and is fun to be around. Life is never boring with her. Another aspect of this book that made it irresistible is Wow. That had to be one of the most unique books in this series. The originality of this series was one of the things that initially drew me in, but the characters kept my interest. I love them all, but Kate stole my heart. She is daring and adventurous, but one of the kindest and caring ones as well. She's not abrasive, she skydives, ground-dives, is extremely fast, can pick locks, and is fun to be around. Life is never boring with her. Another aspect of this book that made it irresistible is the team itself. Rennie, Kate, Sticky, and Constance look out for each other and truly care about each other's well being. Their conflicts weren't immature squabbles, but reflected deep issues they had. I mean, let's face it; they've got evil masterminds against them, who needs drama? It only scares the poor reader (ahem, me) to see their miscommunications. Let's face it, if love triangles will factor into this series anywhere, I might just have a coronary because I love this band of characters and I'm not not letting anything break them apart. Unfortunately (but fortunately) I'm not in charge. That's inevitable when a cast of characters grow up. They go their own ways, and I can start to see that happening already.
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  • Iris
    January 1, 1970
    WHY DID I NOT KNOW THIS WAS A THING HELLO THESE BOOKS WERE MY CHILDHOOD OMFG I'M SCARED
  • Constance
    January 1, 1970
    I'M GONNA CRY THERE'S A FOURTH BOOK???!!!! The Mysterious Benedict Society has always been one of my favorites, I literally cannot wait
  • Ben Howard
    January 1, 1970
    HOW DID I NOT KNOW THERE WAS GOING TO BE A FOURTH ONE?!?! need to re-read the series and then pick this up asap
  • Tirzah
    January 1, 1970
    This was like reuniting with old friends and it was great! It's been four years since I read the previous ones, so I had to relearn some minor details and characters AND also get into logic mode. The Society has grown up and while they are facing growing up issues, they are still the same endearing, quirky geniuses from ago. Tai is a fun, youthful addition...do I sense a second series with Tai as the main character? Maybe, maybe not. Either way, I am glad Trenton Lee Stewart delighted readers wi This was like reuniting with old friends and it was great! It's been four years since I read the previous ones, so I had to relearn some minor details and characters AND also get into logic mode. The Society has grown up and while they are facing growing up issues, they are still the same endearing, quirky geniuses from ago. Tai is a fun, youthful addition...do I sense a second series with Tai as the main character? Maybe, maybe not. Either way, I am glad Trenton Lee Stewart delighted readers with another Benedict Society story!
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  • Dia
    January 1, 1970
    Fun addition to the series
  • Ms. Yingling
    January 1, 1970
    Library copy. Consistently popular series that I once had copies of in my own home. Just not my favorite, although I did enjoy the prequel.
  • Rachel Callahan
    January 1, 1970
    I love these characters and I’m so happy he decided to pick back up the series. This book had great tie-ins to the prequel, as well as the other books.
  • A.M.G.
    January 1, 1970
    Rating: 4.8 / 5The gang is back, many years later both in our world and in their fictional world, and, if I may say so, everything feels like it's done just right!About 9-10 years later I'd guess, and all our MBS members have grown up--well, compared to how they were before, anyway. They're all still together under the caring guidance of Mr. Benedict, but Reynie's now an average-looking young man with an above-average mind, and being offered scholarships into prestigious universities; George "St Rating: 4.8 / 5The gang is back, many years later both in our world and in their fictional world, and, if I may say so, everything feels like it's done just right!About 9-10 years later I'd guess, and all our MBS members have grown up--well, compared to how they were before, anyway. They're all still together under the caring guidance of Mr. Benedict, but Reynie's now an average-looking young man with an above-average mind, and being offered scholarships into prestigious universities; George "Sticky" Washington is a pro chemist who's offered his own chance at running a top-secret lab; Kate "The Great Kate Weather Machine" Wetherall is getting into the secret agent gig with Milligan; and Constance Contraire is an extremely powerful young telepath.Enter into the picture a five year old Tai Li, and you've got the beginning of the "Riddle of Ages" with our young heroes.As always happens with nostalgic reads that are done right, I felt everything that I felt when first reading this series as a kid: namely, excitement and the feeling that I was smart for understanding what was going on. Big words, complicated codes, and a lot of tricks and twists around every corner--all the good stuff that Trenton Lee Stewart has given us from the series. In a way though, I felt that the "risk" element was diminished a bit since the characters are now adults rather than "defenseless" children, and that's about the only reason that I took .2 points off out of an otherwise perfect 5-star rating. There's just a lot of time set aside for filling in the gaps of those 10 or so years from the time skip, putting the characters' emotions and developments into perspective. Not that this wasn't fun and all, but I did feel that for characters that are so smart and perceptive most the time, it wasn't 100% likely for them to be as confused as they were. In any case though, I did appreciate this as an aspect overall, since it did make sense in the context of the story.Not my favourite in the series, as many people keep saying, but definitely an instant favourite as well, and right up there only shelves along with the rest of the series, where it belongs.
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  • Jessica
    January 1, 1970
    It was a lot of fun to be reunited with the characters from the original trilogy, now a bit older and trying to decide if they should use their genius to go off to college or start careers in their teen years (with Constance feeling left out, as usual). The book had too many plot twists for my taste and was overly convoluted (or maybe I'm just slow), but it almost didn't matter because the heart of this book was not puzzles and problem-solving. It was, at its core, a meditation on growing older, It was a lot of fun to be reunited with the characters from the original trilogy, now a bit older and trying to decide if they should use their genius to go off to college or start careers in their teen years (with Constance feeling left out, as usual). The book had too many plot twists for my taste and was overly convoluted (or maybe I'm just slow), but it almost didn't matter because the heart of this book was not puzzles and problem-solving. It was, at its core, a meditation on growing older, written for children. The friends are trying to navigate the tension between opportunities for independence and the comfort they have in being together. They've lived in close quarters for so long and know each other so well that they can wound one another with a single thoughtless word, and they don't know how to close the gaps that are appearing between them as they each pursue their own unique interests. At times it was perhaps a bit too blatant — the title itself refers to their reflections on how things have changed as they age — but nonetheless it was sweet to see the characters navigating their feelings about each other and their own lives. I wouldn't say it's exactly a continuation of the original trilogy because the tone is slightly different, but it is a nice send-off into adulthood for these beloved characters. Oh! And there's a delightful new character who's right around my son's age, and it's always nice when authors actually write children that act their age :)
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  • Alison
    January 1, 1970
    I have really enjoyed this entire series, after originally purchasing it for my then-10 year old son (who in the end found the books too slow to get to the action for his tastes). This book takes places several years (an undetermined number, perhaps 5-8 years?) after the prior book ends. I enjoyed the puzzles that the protagonists solve to try to save Mr. Benedict as I have in prior books, but this one was a little too heavy on the teen angst and interpersonal drama for my tastes. I guess that’s I have really enjoyed this entire series, after originally purchasing it for my then-10 year old son (who in the end found the books too slow to get to the action for his tastes). This book takes places several years (an undetermined number, perhaps 5-8 years?) after the prior book ends. I enjoyed the puzzles that the protagonists solve to try to save Mr. Benedict as I have in prior books, but this one was a little too heavy on the teen angst and interpersonal drama for my tastes. I guess that’s what happens when characters age. That said, I like the characters so found it an enjoyable light read, if not quite as wholeheartedly engrossing as some of the prior books.
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  • Adrian
    January 1, 1970
    I want to cry this was so good and I can't evenI had absolutely no idea that a fourth book was coming out until maybe a month or two before this was released, and holy crap was it even better than I was expecting. The same snarky wit, clever riddles, heartwarming (and sometimes not-so-heartwarming ;D) conversation, and action-filled adventures as the first books, combined with new characters, and new relationship dynamics? Sign me up!Seriously, though, this book was so good. I can't emphasize th I want to cry this was so good and I can't evenI had absolutely no idea that a fourth book was coming out until maybe a month or two before this was released, and holy crap was it even better than I was expecting. The same snarky wit, clever riddles, heartwarming (and sometimes not-so-heartwarming ;D) conversation, and action-filled adventures as the first books, combined with new characters, and new relationship dynamics? Sign me up!Seriously, though, this book was so good. I can't emphasize that enough. If you liked the first three, you won't be disappointed.
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  • Sam
    January 1, 1970
    I was torn between three or four stars for this, but I decided to go with the nicer option. ;) I enjoyed it because it's about the characters I love, but it didn't really live up to the first book, which is by far the best in my opinion. The deadpan ridiculousness that I loved so much in the other books was mostly absent, and I missed it a lot.
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  • Meagan
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 stars. Super fun to see what the kids and Mr. Benedict are up to now. Wasn’t quite the same as the original trilogy, which I think is better, but still a lot of fun, and I didn’t see the end coming.
  • Seth
    January 1, 1970
    I am so glad this series is back! I immediately was absorbed in this book from start to finish, and there was plenty of action to keep me entertained all throughout. Fans of the series will not be disappointed with this book, which contained its fair share of twists and turns. This book certainly deserves its place in the Mysterious Benedict Society series, and is probably one of my favorites in the series. The classic tone and voice of Trenton Lee Stewart is not lacking, and fans of the series, I am so glad this series is back! I immediately was absorbed in this book from start to finish, and there was plenty of action to keep me entertained all throughout. Fans of the series will not be disappointed with this book, which contained its fair share of twists and turns. This book certainly deserves its place in the Mysterious Benedict Society series, and is probably one of my favorites in the series. The classic tone and voice of Trenton Lee Stewart is not lacking, and fans of the series, and any avid reader will love this triumphant tale.
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  • Cassandra
    January 1, 1970
    I CANNOT BELIEVE THIS IS A THING IT HAD BETTER BE GOOD!
  • Rebecca
    January 1, 1970
    This is my second favorite book of the series. I liked the plot.J - age 11
  • ⭐️Cordelia⭐️
    January 1, 1970
    I’m not quite sure what happened! But I loved it! The plot was so complicated, it made it very difficult to understand the many schemes. But there were enough chase/fight scenes to make it exciting anyway! But, you don’t need to understand the plot to be invested in the amazing characters, and their well-being!
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