This enchanting story picks up shortly after the conclusion of The Shadows in which young Olive and her mathematician parents moved into a spooky old house that the neighbors considered haunted and maybe cursed. It’s no wonder the house got a bad reputation as it appeared that all who lived there were certifiably crazy which is no more then might be expected of a place where the paintings are alive and talking cats keep vigil over the darker corners. After Olive’s first adventures resulted in breaking the magic spectacles that allowed her to enter the paintings, she now must rely on the cats to help her keep in touch with Morton, a little boy who has been trapped in a picture for years. It is up to Olive to figure out how to free Morton and it seems the only way to do that is to find the missing book of spells, a grimoire.
With the arrival of Rutherford, a new boy close to her age next door and the strangeness of the brittle Mrs. Nivens, Olive begins suspecting there is more afoot then she realizes and sees sinister motives all around her. Finding the grimoire doesn’t make things any better and leaves Olive with far more questions then answers. Olive will need some powerful magic to counter the dark forces rallying against her and Morton and even then, there is no guarantee that sinister spirit might not be freed.
Trust is difficult to come by when you don’t know whom to believe and poor Olive faces some tough decisions in this delightful tale filled with magic, adventure, danger and all the usual challenges of growing up. Written for young readers and featuring charmingly simple illustrations, this will capture the interest of adults as well and leave fans looking for the next installment to Olive’s continued discoveries.