The Sweet Adventure of The Candy Shop War
Reviewed by Michele Ashman Bell

As I opened the cover of this book I was full of anticipation and excitement. I knew it would be good, or, at least, I expected it to be good. I wasn’t disappointed.

Although there are factors in this book that parents should know about (and that will be presented at the end of this review), the book was an entertaining read.

The Candy Shop War by Brandon Mull is about four ten-year olds – Nate, Summer, Trevor and Pigeon – who become friends with Mrs. White, the owner of the new candy shop in town.

These four kids are terrifically fun characters and are all developed in their own distinct way. They are lively and goofy and many times laugh-out-loud funny (i.e. the “honeylips” comment on page 35).

After spending more time with Mrs. White, they are entrusted with a great secret. She has invented candy that gives certain powers to the person who eats it. Who wouldn’t be excited about that! Well, sure enough Nate, Summer, Trevor and Pigeon, are anxious to try this magic candy and agree to perform a little task for Mrs. White in exchange for some of it.

The first task is simple enough and the kids complete it without too much trouble. In the process, they have fun eating candy that allows them to defy gravity which makes them able to jump to exhilarating heights and do all sorts of cool things.

Quickly though, Mrs. White’s tasks become more demanding. She needs the children to help her get a book and a watch that are on display at a locked and guarded facility.

With the enticement of candy, Mrs. White convinces them to get these items, rationalizing that it isn’t stealing because they are hers to begin with. To make the kids’ actions less noticeable and alarming for their parents, the children give their parents, teachers and any other adult authority figures, white fudge, which immediately hooks those who eat it, as well as dulls their sense of caring too much about what’s going on around them.

Somehow, Mrs. White always seems to be able to provide them with the precise candy that causes the exact desired magical power needed to perform her tasks. In this instance when they are stealing (oops, I mean taking back) Mrs. White’s book and watch, Nate is able to leave his body and inhabit the body of a doll that fits inside the area where the items are being kept.

This task isn’t quite as successful, but the four friends manage to give Mrs. White one of the items she desires. The kids begin to realize that there is something strange going on and question whether Mrs. White could be up to something.

It isn’t long before they realize they are right. Mrs. White is an evil magician who is after a treasure that will give her the ability to reverse the aging process and give her the ultimate power to rule supreme. Nate, Summer, Trevor and Pigeon know that it is up to them to stop her.

I enjoyed Brandon Mull’s creativity with the plot and characters of this book. There were wonderful twists and pieces of information planted throughout the story, which eventually played out in the end. The different abilities provided by the magical candy were imaginative and brilliant, yet sometimes seemed a little too convenient as well as difficult to keep track of.

Parents do need to be aware of several plot points they might want to discuss with their children. For instance, when the kids go on the errand to get the book and watch for Mrs. White, they rationalize their actions by saying they are taking back something that already belongs to Mrs. White. Stealing by any other name is still stealing, and I wished the kids in the book would have shown more conscience and remorse over doing it. Especially ten year olds.

I was also concerned about the use of this magical candy being used to drug the parents into a stupor so the kids could basically do pretty much anything they wanted. And I was very uncomfortable when Nate left his body to inhabit the doll so he could steal the book and watch.

With that said, this book is an exciting adventure that keeps the reader guessing and anxiously engaged the whole way through.

The Candy Shop War by Brandon Mull

Shadow Mountain, 407 pages