The Spoffards have inherited an old, neglected chocolate shop and decide it's just what their family needs; a little more room to grow, especially when the new baby comes. Twins Oz and Lilly are enchanted with the house, especially the old chocolate-making apparatus. Lilly, however, has some trouble adjusting to changes. It's ok for super genius Oz, with his amazing musical abilities. He even finds a friend, Caydon, who lives right across the street. But Lilly is just Lilly; dyslexic, a bit OCD, and not good at anything. Which makes it all the more amazing that she's the one who discovers that the house is truly magical, meets the immortal talking cat Demerara and her sidekick, the rat Spike, and discovers there are more secrets than expected in the old house.
I felt there were some holes in the character development. Oz, especially, definitely seems to be suffering from some Stockholm Syndrome, as he quickly adapts to his captivity and even comes to like his uncle to a certain extent. Like Magicalamity, events and characters pop in and out haphazardly and at the end you feel a little bewildered, although all the various plot ends are tied up neatly enough.
However, I felt that ultimately this was an enchanting romp of a book. There are some poignant moments, like Lilly's bewildered helplessness when Oz and Caydon hit it right off and she's left out in the cold, but mostly it's a fun and light-hearted magical adventure with lots of chocolate, a vain and silly talking cat, a secret magical organization reminiscent of Harry Potter, and a satisfying conclusion where all the threads of the plot are tied up neatly, the good are rewarded, the evil are punished, and everyone lives happily ever after.
Verdict: Kids looking for a fun, magical story with lots of action, funny bits, and a nice chocolate coating will grab this one off the shelves. Hopefully, they'll bring it back again afterwards!
ISBN: 9780385743013; Published 2013 by Delacorte/Random House; Review copy provided by the publisher; Purchased for the library