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Madame Pamplemousse and the Enchanted Sweetshop by Rupert Kingfisher is the third in the series of books which starts with Madame Pamplemousse and her Incredible Edibles, a book I reviewed here.

The book, although part of a series, is perfectly readable as a standalone adventure story. The recurring characters are explained in enough detail for the first time reader to be comfortable with who they are and what they mean to the story, and the story is self contained enough to work as a single volume.

Like the first book, it is a transitional or chapters book, a thin volume of short chapters with black and white illustrations, making it perfect for someone transitioning from the picture book to the novel format.

The story deals with the heroine of the first book, Madeleine, encountering some bullying at school.  Down in the dumps she meets a strange and slightly sinister sweet shop owner who insists on giving her some chocolate that alters Madeleine’s mood, making her euphoric one moment and desperately unhappy the next. The more she eats the oddly addictive chocolates, the worse Madeleine’s situation becomes until she is ensnared by the chocolate shop owner in a terrible and scary alternative world.

It is down to Madame Pamplemousse to come to the rescue.

This is just as good as the first book in the series, but rather more serious and a lot darker. It is in places quite surreal and scary, and I’m not sure I’d be happy sharing it with younger readers as I would the first book in the series.  I would suggest that it is perfectly fine for seven to ten year olds, but if you’re going to read it aloud as a story to younger children I’d think twice unless you know how far you can comfortably scare them.

Again, despite the pinkness of the front cover and the marketing blurb, I think if you can get a boy past the way the book looks, there will be plenty here to keep boys turning the pages as much as girls.

My children really enjoyed this book. We are now hunting for the second in the series, as we found out a bit about what happens in it, in the course of reading this book and we are desperate to fill in the gaps we have missed.