Jon and Frank want nothing more than to win West Hills Zodiac Games but... sneaky rules, ancient artifacts and one creepy shadow may beat them all.
West Hills School for the Perceptually Gifted is buzzing with excitement as the much-anticipated competition approaches, and 11-year-old gifted twins Jon and Frank Reed are eager to compete. That is... if the judges can decide on the rules.
It will take all their gifts and knowledge to help Aries house win the coveted title of Zodiac champions. But the competition is not the only game being played at West Hills.
A mysterious shadow figure is haunting Jon while he sleeps and trying to tempt him down a dark path.
Something even more sinister is happening to the young telepathy students. When his classmates begin suffering from dangerous outbursts of fear and paranoia, Frank worries he could be next.
Will Frank’s fear and Jon’s secrets prevent them from uncovering the truth? It’s a race to solve these mysteries before someone gets hurt... or worse.
The Secrets of Arkaim is the second book in the middle grade fantasy series The Reeds of West Hills.
Easy to jump into and follow even for new readers, this continuation immediately establishes the bonds of friendships the twins have made, their relationships with their teachers, and the generally warm atmosphere that makes this school such an enticing home away from home. There is a bully, of course, and Padgett also conjures the healthy competition that often powers magic school stories, as the students, divided into houses named after astrological signs, compete in the Zodiac games, an inventive annual competition that the school board judges. “It’s an awful school competition that gets out of control,” the twins’ friend Mira explains, hyping the reader through her distaste.
Padgett spices this all with the perfect amount of scary to keep young readers captivated but not frightened, and the adults at the school are quick to offer help and comfort. The twins also have their close, loving family ensuring they’re safe, but giving them room to grow. Above all, they have each other, which makes them more powerful in increasingly new ways. Young readers will be drawn to this story of twin boys who use their powers to face evil, yet have all the support they need from intelligent, warm teachers and friends.
Takeaway: Appealing school fantasy of mystery, magic, and love between twin brothers.
Comparable Titles: Soman Chainani’s The School for Good and Evil, Rick Riordan.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A-