A Dangerous Riddle of Chance is a whimsical, well written adventure story aimed at middle grade readers by the pseudonymous F.L.Ying (snicker). Released 28th Oct 2021 by The Book Guild, it's a substantial 448 pages and is available in paperback and ebook formats. It's worth noting that the ebook format has a handy interactive table of contents as well as interactive links and references throughout. I've really become enamored of ebooks with interactive formats.
Even though I'm not a huge fan of clowns (looking at you, Stephen King), this book's titular protagonist, Chance, is an appealing and sympathetic everyman. He and his ragtag entourage have 99 days to save the world before he disappears and everyone's doom is sealed.
The world building is solid, including a magical circus, truly despicable bad guys, and a mostly appealing group of friends out to try to save the world. There is a Lemony Snickett vibe here and readers who are fond of that franchise will find much to engage them. The length is potentially problematic, at 448 pages, and frankly the book could've done with a ruthless editor shaving off about 30% of the word count. There is a surprising amount of relatively graphic violence/murder which surprised me, but again with a sort of Roald Dahl/Lemony Snicket sensibility which will appeal to fans of those authors.
The spelling and vernacular are British English, but shouldn't pose any problems for American readers.
Three and a half stars.
Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.
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