Reviews for Tell-Tale Start

Booklist Reviews 2013 March #1
Besides having an illustrious ancestor and namesake, identical twins Edgar and Allan Poe also share an uncanny ability to inhabit each other's brilliant minds. Always an asset when carrying out the occasional prank, the middle-schoolers' extrasensory bond also comes in handy when they are kidnapped by a madman bent on killing one twin and manipulating the other in order to prove his theory of "quantum entanglement." The scenes in which Poe attempts to help his descendants from beyond the grave are bizarre as well as amusing. Nicely capturing the tone of the writing, small, stylized black-and-white drawings appear at intervals throughout the book. Like the Poe twins themselves, the over-the-top nefarious plot and the dark humor of the writing have a certain charm. Readers with a taste for droll wit will want to try the first volume in the Misadventures of Edgar & Allan Poe series. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2013 Fall
A set of twin prodigies named for their famous author ancestor are lured into a trap by a nefarious mad scientist who is engaged in a top secret experiment that involves killing one brother and controlling the telepathic thoughts of the surviving twin. Sardonic humor, coded letters, and secret forewarning messages combine with literary references for a mysterious brainy exploit.

Kirkus Reviews 2012 December #1
Two twins so nearly interchangeable that they even share each other's thoughts nearly fall victim to a mad scientist in this mildly farcical series kickoff. Despite genius-level intellects, the young Poes little suspect that their every move has been surreptitiously recorded since birth by crazed nuclear physicist S. Pangborn Perry. Convinced that they are living embodiments of quantum entanglement, he intends to kill one and enslave the other to open a channel of communication with the afterlife. McAlpine first establishes the twins' bona fides as pranksters by having them turn their Baltimore basement into a chamber of horrors to cow a gang of bullies. He then sends them on a road trip to a supposed Oz-themed amusement park in Kansas, where Perry lurks with their kidnapped cat, Roderick Usher. Along the way, the lads cotton on to the fact that nefarious doings are afoot thanks to garbled warnings from their ancestral namesake, who watches over them from the not-quite-Heavenly office that generates fortune-cookie fortunes. In a climax filled with flying stage monkeys and falling counterweights, they scotch Perry's plot--at least for this episode. Occasional letters, journal entries and text messages, as well as small, scribbly ink sketches fill out and add visual breaks to the narrative. Middle-grade fans of L.L. Samson's Enchanted Attic series will enjoy this, though it's less clever in its twists and literary references. (Adventure. 10-12) Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2012 December #1

McAlpine (Mystery Box) opens the Misadventures of Edgar and Allan Poe series by introducing the 12-year-old great-great-great-great-grandnephews of famed author Edgar Allan Poe. More than just identical twins, Edgar and Allan are literally of one mind ("Each always knew what the other was thinking, feeling, experiencing"). A mad professor is quite interested in harnessing the power of the boys' mind meld (which is credited to "quantum entanglement" theory), and he creates an elaborate Wizard of Oz-related ruse to kidnap them. In establishing Edgar and Allan as orphaned mischievous geniuses with a connection to the macabre, the author lays some complex groundwork, including passages about what the twins don't know and coded messages from Poe himself, delivered from the "great beyond." This scene-setting slows the story's initial progression, though the action eventually picks up, and Zup-pardi's spindly b&w spot illustrations add to the overall creepy atmosphere. The light horror, snarky laughs, and gloom- and prank-loving protagonists should particularly appeal to fans of the Edgar and Ellen books and similar fare. Ages 8-12. Agent: Kelly Sonnack, Andrea Brown Literary Agency. (Jan.)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2013 March

Gr 4-7--As the great-great-great-great-grandnephews of the renowned horror writer, seventh-grade twins Edgar and Allan do their best to live up to his sinister reputation. Whether creating "The Pit and the Pendulum"-inspired Halloween trap or a grotesque rearrangement of the biology class skeleton, the boys use their mental powers to astonish their classmates and dismay their teachers. Their amazing skills have also attracted the attention of evil Professor Perry. After engineering their expulsion from school, he kidnaps their cat, leaving clues that will lure the boys cross-country to his Kansas OZ-itorium Theme Park, which celebrates the L. Frank Baum tale. The Professor idolizes the Wizard of Oz, whom he claims is among the world's great villains. Just as the Wizard used Dorothy and her friends to eliminate his rival and dominate Oz, the Professor intends to use the twins' powerful telepathic link to exchange information between this world and the afterlife, giving him control of both spheres. Unfortunately, this will involve killing one of the boys. The twins' efforts to thwart the evil genius are encouraged by supernatural messages from Edgar Allan Poe himself, somewhere in the Great Beyond. Interdimensional communication is unreliable, and the messages are often misleading. Can Edgar and Allan save the world? While the convoluted plot is often amusing, the twins are not particularly likable. They use their superior intelligence to manipulate others, and their "pranks" are often vicious and destructive. Authority figures like teachers are clueless or corrupt, while the twins' aunt and uncle blithely ignore the nasty practical jokes and cruel comments. An additional choice where series fiction is in high demand.--Elaine E. Knight, Lincoln Elementary Schools, IL

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