I feel so accomplished at finishing this childhood goal of completing the Secret Series. Each book is humorously and ingeniously named, linking itself to one of the five senses that correspond to a key artifact. A simple concept, but incredibly educational for young readers and thoroughly creative. These books have been a great ride, packed with uniquely funny writing the whole way through.
[I’m going to include slightly longer summaries of the first two books because I didn’t make separate posts about each. I suppose I could go back and make each their own post, but then the series would be out of order, and that would feel weird. I’d say this is the best way to go about my previous laziness, so that’s the way it’s gonna be. Shoulda-woulda-coulda.]
1. The Name of This Book Is Secret
Sense of Smell
Artifact: Symphony of Smells
The one that started it all. Our introduction to Cass. Max-Ernest, their families, the Terces Society, and the Midnight Sun. Oh, and how could we forget our humble author Pseudonymous Bosch (or PB to make it easy).
(Now, before they are introduced, we find that the names of our characters are actually pseudonyms to protect their identities. We don’t even know where they live or go to school. PB reveals too much sensitive info about them in these books that could help the Midnight Sun track their whereabouts).
Meet Cass, self-proclaimed survivalist, predicting and preparing for any disaster imaginable. Her everyday backpack contains things to help her be prepared at all times: rope, matches, a first-aid kit, and Cass’s patented “super-chip” trail mix (see Appendix, Book 1 for recipe). She also has very pointy ears that she is ashamed of and often wears her red hair in braids.
Meet Max-Ernest, the split boy. His parents couldn’t decide on his name, so he has two. His house is also split, literally. One half for his mother, and one for his father. Each attempt to parent Max-Ernest independently, with a balanced schedule to ensure their son spends equal time in both sides of the house. He even packs two lunches to school and eats the same amount of food out of each. Talk about unsettling.
Also an aspiring stand-up comedian, and later magician (but ends up as the author of these books). He likes magic tricks, cracking codes, and very dark chocolate (after book 3, that is).
These two meet when Cass discovers a strange smell in the schoolyard, and the two proceed to visit a magician’s house, discover the Symphony of Smells, and read the magician’s story of betrayal and unsolved mystery.
This is where we learn about the Bergamo Brothers, traveling twin magicians with synesthesia, “the confusion of the senses”. This allows them to communicate in a language all of their own, using smells to create sounds only they could hear, hence the term “Symphony” of Smells.
When Cass and Max-Ernest decode a distress signal, they infiltrate the Midnight Sun Spa and…
…you’ll have to read to find out, because the rest is a Secret!
2. If You’re Reading This, It’s Too Late
Sense of Hearing
The Sound Prism
PB numbers this book’s chapters in reverse order because, “With any luck, the book will explode at the end, and [he] won’t have to finish it.”
Cass starts having these dreams about confrontations with a small humanoid creature that closely resembles her sock monster. Later, we discover this is the Homunculus, Mr. Cabbage Face himself. But more on that later.
For now, there’s a new kid at school: Yo-Yoji. Fresh from japan, he joins Cass and Max-Ernest at the Nuts table, where the nut allergy kids sit who are “nuts”. Sending out cool guy vibes with his “yo’s” and “sick” and electric guitar playing, he forms a lasting friendship with the two main characters and joins in their adventures from this point onward.
These three meet Pietro for the first time (one of the Bergamo brothers from Book 1), and are introduced to the rest of the Terces Society, the secret society that they are now a part of. It is within the files of this organization that the trio discover The Legend of the Cabbage Face, which leads them to uncover their mission: make contact with the Homunculus. To do this, they must use the Sound Prism whose eerie melody haunts Cass in her dreams.
With the help of a ravenous Homunculus, the trio meet face to face with the Midnight Sun once again. They must prevent Dr. L and Ms. Mauvais from resurrecting the nefarious…
…I cannot reveal that name at this time, because by the time you read this, it’ll be far too late!
3. This Book Is Not Good for You
The Tuning Fork
A secret chocolate operation in a faux jungle and a magical instrument that changes the flavor of food. Taste the adventure here.
4. This Isn’t What It Looks Like
This one takes us back to Medieval times to delve into Cass’s mysterious origins where she believes she’ll uncover the Secret at last. There’s also some card reading and a monocle that gives X-ray vision. Find what you’re looking for here.
5. You Have to Stop This
The Ring of Thoth
This last tale wrapped up (haha-like how mummies are wrapped, get it?) this series wonderfully. If you want to visit Egypt, Las Vegas, and a mummy museum all in one, get your hands on this book.
I am incredibly sad to say goodbye to the universe of Cass Ma-Ernest, and Yo-Yoji. Yet I had an amazing time with them, and will hold onto the joy and childlike wonder these books brought back into my life during the time I read them. I was reminded here that the reason for life is to find something to laugh at.