Goodreads: The Secret of Indigo Moon
Series: The DoppleGanger Chronicles #2
Sadie and Saskia Doppel return with their friend Erik Ganger to solve crime once again in the follow-up to The First Escape. A furtive burglary in the night reveals secret tunnels under Isambard Dunstan’s School for Wayward Children. Soon the trio are involved in a decades-old plot that spans the countryside and brings them face-to-face with an old foe.
The Secret of Indigo Moon integrates the text and the graphic elements much more smoothly than its predecessor, which allowed me to focus on the storytelling rather than wonder why the author chose the illustrated novel format (though it appears that, contrary to my assumption that it was an artistic decision, the format is supposed to appeal to reluctant readers). Unfortunately, I still found the plot a jumble of elements, all meant to be exciting or mysterious or scary, but really just coming across as disjointed. It is as if the author has a vague idea of what kinds of things are “supposed” to create a fast-paced adventure/mystery, but lacks some of the skill to incorporate them into a seamless story.
So it was that I once again found myself a bit confused by everything being thrown at me. Somehow it managed to form a somewhat coherent plot involving secret passageways, a decade-old burglary strategy, and the reemergence of old enemies, as well as the typical boarding school stuff involving the twins’ rule of fear over the other students and their dislike of the mean headmistress. I remain unclear on how the trio all got back to the boarding school (Muzz Elliot didn’t want Saskia anymore? The police don’t care about the teens’ theft of a car and other possibly criminal transgressions?), but I eventually just accepted that a boarding school setting was wanted for the story and thus all obstacles were smoothed away.
I really read this installment for the characters and not for the plot, but I found myself slightly disappointed there as well. Sadie and Saskia seem like they ought to be likable and clever characters, but really they are not. In fact, anyone who attended school with them would probably hate them for being stuck-up bullies. Away from their peers they prove a lot more sympathetic, but I fail to understand their penchant for snooping and for involving themselves in mysteries seeing as they are so terrible about solving anything. Usually they just manage to fall into a series of near-death experiences, but with the help of friends keep emerging until the bad guys just reveal everything and the police conveniently arrive. It’s actually kind of strange.
I enjoyed reading about Erik more simply because he proves useful. With his background as a former thief, he at least can pick a lock or two on occasion. I was not overly impressed with his cleverness, either, especially since he wants to be a detective and I therefore expect more of him, but at least he tries.
The only other notable thing about this series is the insertion of religion. In my last review, I noted that I thought the presentation “heavy-handed”. In this book, it was less so, but I still thought it was not integrated smoothly into the work. Having angels appear randomly is probably hard to pull off, I admit, but if they are going to be there, I expect them to work with the plot more. I’m also unclear on what exactly the series is trying to achieve with the presentation. It’s obvious Madame Raphael is an angel, but she insists on calling God “the Companion” like that will obscure his identity and make him more palatable or something.
Reading an illustrated novel does not take long, so I intend to read the third installment as I continue to try to figure out what this series is attempting to accomplish. I do find the stories exciting while they last. I am just never convinced they make sense.