Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Kiki Strike: The Darkness Dwellers

Kiki Strike: The Darkness Dwellers

Kirsten Miller
Fiction  Series
For ages 12 and up
Bloomsbury, 2013   ISBN: 978-1599907369

Not that long ago, Kiki Strike, who is also Princess Katarina of Pokovia, was almost assassinated by her own aunt and cousin. When Kiki was just a small child Kiki’s aunt, Livia Galatzina,  killed the then queen of Pokovia, Kiki’s mother. It was believed that Kiki was also dead and Livia has been having a grand time being a queen and living the good life ever since. Then Livia found out that Kiki was living under an assumed name in New York City and she came to the United States to get rid of the true heir to the Pokovian throne. Thanks to Kiki’s friends, a group of girls called the Irregulars, the assassination attempt was foiled and Kiki got her hands on a ring that belonged to her mother, a ring that will help Kiki to prove once and for all that Livia murdered her sister in cold blood.

   The time has now come for Kiki to go to Europe to reclaim her birthright. Unfortunately, she underestimates her aunt and cousin and she and her faithful retainer, Verushka, are taken prisoner. Kiki is locked up in a bell tower in Paris and she is told that she better do as she is told or Verushka will be killed.

   Kiki and the Irregulars knew that they might need some leverage to deal with Livia, so DeeDee, who is a whizz when it comes to chemistry, created a formula for women who are going bald. Since Livia is already bald, and her daughter soon will be, the hope is that Kiki’s dreadful relatives will be willing to do just about anything to get their hands on the hair restoring potion.

   With the help of a rather handsome French boy Kiki manages to get word to her friends that she needs the hair formula double quick. Now Ananka, Kiki’s friend and fellow Irregular, has to find a way to get the formula to Kiki in time. Luckily Ananka accidentally meets up with Amelia Beauregard, the principal of a famous girl’s finishing school. Amelia is keen to have Betty Bent, one of the Irregulars, travel with her to Paris. Amelia needs an assistant and for some reason she thinks Betty fits the bill perfectly. Betty is more than happy to take on the job because it will make it possible for her to get the hair formula to Kiki tout suite.

   One would think saving Kiki from her psychopathic relatives would be more than enough to be working on, but the Irregulars have other problems to solve. Someone is impersonating Oona, one of the toughest of the Irregulars, and now Oona’s reputation is in shreds. Everyone things she is a cheat and a thief, when in fact it would seem that Oona’s evil twin (oh yes) is the one who is going around breaking the law left, right, and center.

   Then there is Amelia’s request that Molly Donovan, Ananka’s former classmate, join her finishing school as a student. Amelia turns perfectly normal girls into terrifyingly proper zombie girls and Ananka and her friends are determined to do everything in their power to make sure that Molly is not turned into a pearl-wearing “young lady” who is incapable of having a single original thought or idea.

   In no time at all the Irregulars are faced with trying to tackle multiple problems on many fronts. They have no idea how they are going to save Kiki from death, save Molly from being turned into a zombie, repair Oona’s reputation, and solve a decades old mystery.

   This delightful third Kiki Strike adventure is once again told from Ananka’s point of view. In addition to the enthralling narrative, which is full of surprises, Ananka also shares tips and tricks about etiquette and what it means to be a “Twenty-First- Century Lady (or Gentleman). A grand adventure in New York City and in Paris’ catacombs, meaningful personal revelations, and a touch of romance makes this novel deeply satisfying.