The Black Book of Buried Secrets by Mallory Kass

October is Puzzling
One of my favorite genres of middle school fiction are the puzzle books. You know, the ones you get to decifer secret clues or codes along with the characters? If you love mysteries or a good guessing game, these are for you!

This a bonus book to the 39 Clues series, focusing on each branch of the Cahill family: the Lucians, the Tomas, the Ekaterinas, the Janus, and the elusive Madrigals. Each branch of the family is known for their particular skill set.

The Lucians are decendants of Luke Cahill, the oldest child of Olivia and Gideon...and rumored to have caused the explosion that killed his father. Innocent of their accusations, he vowed revenge and to collect all the clues for himself. He became King Henry VIII's right hand man, and Lucians have held powerful positions in government ever since then. The Kabras, Ian and Natalie, are in line to succeed their leadership of the Lucians from their parents. Some of the most famous Lucians have included Benjamin Franklin, Napoleon Bonaparte, Winston Churchill, and Anastasia Romanov.

The Tomas branch is decended from Thomas Cahill, 2nd son of Gideon and Olivia, who fled with his sister Katherine after the death of their father. Later, the siblings parted after Katherine stole one of Thomas's clues. Their branch is known for their physical prowess and legendary warrior status. Some of the youngest Tomas' agents are the Holt kids: Hamilton, Regan, and Madison. Among their famous members are Annie Oakley, Shaka Zulu, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, and the team of Lewis, Clark, and Sacagawea.

The Ekaterina branch is decended from Katherine Cahill, the 3rd child of Gideon and Olivia. She escaped with her brother Thomas after her brother Luke allegedly killed her father. She grew impatient after Thomas postponed their search for clues after falling in love, and resolved to continue the search without him...after she stole one of his clues. The leadership of the Ekat branch has passed to Alistair Oh after the incarceration of his uncle Bae. The Ekats are known for their intelligence, creativity, and ingenuity. Some of their most note-worthy members have included Thomas Edison, the Wright brothers, Abraham Lincoln, and Marie Curie.

The Janus branch is descended from Jane Cahill, the 4th child of Gideon and Olivia. She was only 10 years old when her father was killed, and was devastated at the departure of her brother Luke. She struck out on her own, but found it difficult to make it as an artist AND a she improvised. The Janus branch is made up of artists, actors, singers, and other creative types. Jonah Wizard, world-famous rapper, and secret Shakespeare lover is one of the up and coming younger members of the Janus crew. Well known Janus members include Thomas Jefferson, Jane Austen, Mark Twain, and Mozart.

The Madrigals are decended from Madeline Cahill, the 5th and youngest child of Gideon and Olivia. This is the only branch of the family which requires you to pass a test to gain membership. The newest members, of course, are Amy and Dan Cahill, along with their au pair, Nellie Gomez. Some of the most famous Madrigals included William Shakespeare, Amelia Earhart, and Florence Nightingale.

This branch of the family is dedicated to keeping the balance of power, and uses their influence to keep any one branch from gaining too many clues. This has often required agents to work undercover, or pose as a threat. Additionally, Amy and Dan have been given the task of attempting to unite the branches of the family. Can it be done? It sure seems impossible, given their several hundred years of fighting...

Throughout the book are codes you must decipher to learn what the next series featuring the Cahill family will involve. And yes, all you 39 Clues fiends, they are planning more books! This is a great series for reluctant readers, and includes an online game component for those who can't get enough Cahill action. Watch out, the Vespers are coming...

*Library Link*

If you liked this, check out:
Vespers Rising by Rick Riordan, Peter Lerangis, Gordon Korman, Jude Watson (April 2011)
The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan
The Alchemyst: the Immortal Secrets of Nicholas Flamel by Michael Scott

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