Book Review: Clarity Jones and the Magical Detective Agency

Website update: I have just switched to a full-site editing theme in WordPress. In case you don’t know, this should allow me customise every aspect of the website. It’s not as intuitive as I hoped, so it’s going to take me a few weeks to get the layout the way I want so please bear with me while I figure it out!

On to this week’s review: From the publisher:

‘Never, ever eliminate the impossible.’
Clarity Jones

When Mutt gets a job as an apprentice at the leading detective agency in the realm of Rillia, he’s not expecting to work with ex-princesses, snow gnoblins and the most notorious assassin of the White Hand Clan.
And he’s definitely not expecting to be thrown in the deep end on the agency’s toughest and most dangerous job yet – the mysterious case of the vanishing jester . . .
From the incredible imagination of Chris Smith – bestselling author and now a major new solo talent – comes a hilarious adventure for fans of Cressida Cowell, Robin Stevens and Disney Pixar.

My thoughts:

I really enjoyed this humorous, imaginative and magical tale, set in the city of Meandermart, where orphan Mutt, following the local tradition of having figurines of his parents carved as a reminder of them, keeps to their strict principle of neither stealing nor begging. (An aside – I really liked this aspect of the story, as so often the opposite is portrayed in middle grade fiction.) Mutt therefore spends his days as a messenger boy around the streets of Meandermart, earning enough for a few scraps to keep himself alive. Knowing the backstreets like the back of his hand (or rather better) doesn’t stop him from stumbling accidentally into the Clarity Jones’ Magical Detective Agency while on the run from some local bullies. Which is just as well as Clarity is looking for an apprentice and gives Mutt a job on a trial basis, paying him in advance so he can buy clothes (which he spends instead on the best and most expensive goat-pie in all of Rillia). When Clarity is hired to find the missing royal jester, Mutt is determined to prove himself worthy of her trust.

I love the magic and the monsters in this world. Clarity has collected an array of magical items to help her investigations as she operates Meandermart’s first magical detective agency, which are great fun to read about. The book is nicely illustrated by Kenneth Anderson, and I particularly loved the little excerpts from ‘A Travellers Guide to Rillia’ with pictures and details of the various animals, such as Hedge-Hawks or Umlauts.

Mutt is a great characters, and I like Nissassa (assassin by name as well as calling) and Mirko, the snow-gnoblin (obsessed with keeping his fur clean), but I lOVE Clarity. I would love to read of her adventures gathering together all her magical artefacts and how she met Smyll, the walking wooden chest.

The book is targeted for 8-12 year olds. I would think it’s better suited to younger readers (7-9), partly because of the tongue-in-cheek narrator commentary (eg “Once upon a time there was a princess. (Boring start, I know, but stick with it – it gets better)” ) but also because the mystery is very obvious. I’m saying that as an adult but I think most 8-12 year olds would guess immediately too. However that wouldn’t stop older kids (or adults) from hugely enjoying the story, and if you are looking for an imaginative and fun fantasy read, I highly recommend it.

Thanks to the publishers Puffin (Penguin Random House) and Netgalley UK for the eARC. Clarity Jones and the Magical Detective Agency will be published on 25th May.

16 responses to “Book Review: Clarity Jones and the Magical Detective Agency”

  1. Love the title and the story sounds like one kids (and maybe a few of us older kids) would enjoy. I’ve added it to my future read list thanks to your engaging review. Thanks for featuring the book on Marvelous Middle Grade Monday.

    Liked by 1 person

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