When their parents go through a divorce, 12 year old twins Maisie and Felix Robbins are forced to move from New York City (the only home they’ve ever known) to Rhode Island, and their lives feel bleak. To make matters worse, they’re moving with their mother into stuffy and outdated servants’ quarters, which were for a mansion that once belonged to their great-great-grandfather. Things begin to change, however, when Maisie and Felix go snooping around the mansion – now operated as a museum – and happen upon a mystical item in a hidden room.
The action in this soft science fiction story takes its time to arrive but it is skillfully paced to build suspense and intrigue. While the story involves time travel, there is no explanation about how or why it works, and there seem to be no consequences for revealing facts about the future to those from the past. Historical notes are included at the end, but many are also worked into the text with varying degrees of success, occasionally feeling forced. Although the book provides minimal character development, instead focusing on the setting, it does authentically capture some of the feelings that children of divorce may experience. For third grade fans of the Magic Treehouse series.