Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Chess Queen Enigma

The Chess Queen Enigma

Colleen Gleason
Fiction  Series
For ages 12 and up
Chronicle Books, 2015   ISBN: 978-1452143170

Evaline Stoker and Mina Holmes have solved some very puzzling mysteries in the last few months. Just three weeks ago they faced some extremely dangerous foes, both human and vampire. Since then nothing much has happened and so both young women are ready for a new challenge, preferably one that will require that they use their considerable skills.

They are therefore much put out when Miss Adler – who is their mentor – asks them to take care of a princess from Betrovia who will be visiting the city. It will be up to Evaline and Mina to make sure that she is safe and that her reputation is “spotless” when she leaves the country. A very important trade agreement is going to be negotiated between England and Betrovia during the visit, and therefore the visit must be a resounding success on all fronts.

Betrovia and England have had a rather complicated relationship over the years, due in large part to a disagreement about the ownership of an ancient chess set. The English government hopes that their differences will finally be set aside so that the trade agreement might go through.

Mina and Evaline are not at all happy at the prospect of spending a month chaperoning a princess to “musicales, teas, and soirees.” Indeed, the idea appalls them both, but when Miss Adler, and Princess Alix, ask them to do something the girls have no choice but to comply. Which they do with ill-concealed annoyance.

Mina and Evaline do their best to entertain their royal charge, but it is hard going. The princess is a singularly dull young woman and she seems to have very few interests. Then, things start to get rather exciting. The letter from Queen Elizabeth I that the Betrovian government was going to give to the English people as a gift is stolen. Mina discovers a clue at the scene of the crime that indicates that their old enemy, the Ankh, is involved in some way. It turns out that the letter indicates the whereabouts of the missing chess piece, the queen, that has been lost for hundreds of years. When the chess piece is found it will serve as part of some kind of key that will open the base of the chess table wherein is hidden a treasure of great value. No wonder the Ankh stole the letter.

When they manage to lose the princess, Mina and Evaline are dismissed from their chaperoning duties, which is a relief in a way, but also an embarrassment. Neither one of the young women likes to fail when they are given a task to complete.

Though the princess is no longer their responsibility, the girls continue to work on trying to find out what the Ankh is up to, and in the process they end up getting tangled up in a very puzzling mystery. Evaline also finds out that vampires are active in the city and something has to be done before countless innocents are turned into immortal monsters. One top of all this is the question of what their friend Pix is up to.  He finally may have got himself into a situation that might just be too big for him to handle.

This third Stoker and Holmes adventure will delight readers who have enjoyed the earlier books in the series. Once again Mina, Evaline and their friends face some dangerous and highly intelligent foes, and once again they have to do so while battling their own flaws and personal challenges.