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A Supernatural Mystery Delight for Teens

The Whizbang Machine - Danielle A. Vann

Supernatural machinery is nothing new to fantasy (many a young adult and preteen read have included magical equipment), but a talented typewriter is something different, which Elizabeth discovers when a gift from her grandfather spells out new powers in the form of secrets revealed.


One delightful aspect of this story line is the old-fashioned type sprinkled throughout the pages, which capture the typewriter's special font and clarify that the messages are coming from a machine.


Another is the fact that a family curse brings granddaughter and grandfather together on a problem-solving mission spiked with supernatural overtones. As Elizabeth narrates her family's heritage and her increasing involvement with the magic typewriter that will change lives and destinies, she thoroughly involves readers in the quest: "The machine sighed to sleep with the flip of the red off button. I drew in a deep breath, stuffed Jack’s last postcard in my front jean pocket and stood eerily still. Jack, I thought. After all this time, he would finally be standing inside my house. The place he used to treasure before the bomb went off in both of our lives. It didn’t seem like today would ever come."


Mystery and supernatural elements are paired with strong characterization, believable scenarios and motives, and a host of challenges that keep Elizabeth and Jack on their toes. Readers follow the clues along with the investigator duo and will enjoy an ever-quickening pace as the two race against time to solve a series of impossible problems, with the Royal typewriter pushing them to hone their sleuthing skills before it's too late.


The result is a beautifully written page-turner recommended for young adult readers: one that does an excellent job of building its plot and characters and surrounds them with a mystery spiced with the dilemma of a Royal curse that may prove undefeatable, if the two family members can't solve it once and for all: "I repeated the sinister words the vendor chanted, “One thousand and forty years the curse will remain until the rightful owner shall turn back the hands of time and correct a Royal mistake. The secret will eat away at those who come to play like a disease.”