Being an orphan in books basically means you get to have awesome adventures

Retro Friday Reviews are hosted by Angieville. Basically you review an older book on Fridays.

The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart is an AWESOME middle grade book featuring clever orphans. Y’all I love orphans, they are one of my favorite literary trope. While I am sure being an orphan in real life sucks, being an orphan in books basically means you get to have awesome adventures, live on an island with a bunch of kooky characters, or beg for more gruel.

The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart Book Cover

The Mysterious Benedict Society

I should put this out there right now, The Mysterious Benedict Society is a fairly long book, it’s about 492 pages. If you aren’t patient for things that start a bit boring, then maybe this won’t be the right book for you. Me on the other hand, I am down for boring — I love long winded passages like in Lord Of The Rings and The Once And Future King. So, Mysterious Benedict Society will appeal to that sort of reader, not to the sort who has to have lots and lots of action.

Okay, so there’s this ad in the paper saying come take a test and get fantastic opportunities. So lots of orphan children show up to take the test. However, only four children are chosen for the opportunities: Reynie Muldoon, Sticky Washington, Kate Wetherall and Constance Contraire. These four kids must unravel the plans of evil genius Mr. Curtain, who is running an elite school on Nomansanisland and brainwashing people.

What I loved about this book is that each character brings something different to the table. This book celebrates differences in thinking. Each child has unique talents and Trenton Lee Stewart shows that there is more than one way to skin a cat, as we see how each approach works. We’ve got Reynie who is very clever and can figure out the ‘trick’ to a problem, Sticky who is a braniac, Kate who is very resourceful with a bucket, and Constance who is completely unconventional.

Further, it was lovely to see the foursome develop their friendship. I liked seeing how they all came to trust each other. It’s a nice lesson to learn, to appreciate each other for who we are, in weakness and strength.

Okay and this is out of pure indulgence, but I fricken love cranky characters SO much in theory. I imagine someday I will be the ‘you kids get off my lawn’ person. SO when a cranky character shows up, I practically clap my hands with glee. Constance is a pint size old lady and I love that. She’s hands down my favorite character.

If you like a good mystery, clever children, and long winded passages, definitely check out The Mysterious Benedict Society.

Disclosure: Purchased copy.

I read Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart as part of my Fill In The Gaps Challenge.

Other Reviews of The Mysterious Benedict Society:

The Book Monsters
The Haunting Of Orchid Forsythia
Ms. Bookish

Purchase The Mysterious Benedict Society here. *FYI I receive a small commission at no additional cost to you if you buy things from Amazon after clicking link.

About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.


  1. So glad you like this one! I found it to be completely wonderful and entertaining and clever, and I was a little shocked that I hadn’t seen more about it in blog land. Also: I’m a total softy for cranky characters, too! They’re just so funny!

  2. It is so true that in books, Orphans get to have so many awesome adventures! I’m more than a little bit jealous! *lol*
    This sounds like a fun one! I’ve found that sometimes the ones that take a little while to get into are some of the best books I’ve read.

  3. I have yet to read this one, but it’s patiently sitting on my TBR shelf waiting for me. The comment about orphans in books really made me laugh – it’s sort of like the rule that Disney characters are never allowed to have two live parents.

  4. Oooh, I’ve never read this one. BUT, I did recently read The Emerald Atlas by John Stephens (loved it!), and there were orphans-on-adventures in that one…
    I guess I never really thought about how many middle grade books with orphans are out there until just now. Lots. Hmmm. And they do seem to have fun adventures. You’ve totally pointed out a fresh idea to me today!!!

  5. sorry!! misspelled the artist’s name on this one, but couldn’t delete it. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  6. Ahh I’m so glad you loved this one! I read it way back when and adored it. I really should read it again!

  7. a foursome does seem like a cool dynamic for a book such as this. well done, per usual.

  8. I love that you prefaced with saying that you need to have patience for books that start out boring. And I agree that books with orphans means lots of adventures. Look at Annie. ๐Ÿ™‚


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