July 2012, Bloomsbury
102 pages, Paperback
Themes: activity holiday, teamwork, facing fears, bullying, getting into mischief, historical mystery, sneaking about, seance almost held, detective work, canoeing, key life stage, dealing with a hyperactive girl, several plot twists, lots of humour, a little spookiness
Summary from Bloomsbury
Paige Owens, bright, cheeky, confident, cannot wait to go to secondary school. Curtis Okafor, wary and much less confident, is not so sure. The only thing they share in common is the first letter of their surnames - which ensures they are forced into each other's company on a school trip to Wickworth Manor, the local stately home.
Then Curtis finds a portrait in his bedroom of a young black servant dressed in livery. But why is the portrait hidden in the bedroom, and not in pride of place alongside the other portraits in the manor? And then Paige finds an intriguing letter, written over 200 years ago by Miss Verity Burton, who used to live at the Manor, that mentions the portrait. There is a mystery begging to be unravelled! So Paige and Curtis, in their very different ways, start work to find out what happened all those years ago . .
One of the things I like most about this story is that it isn't too scary. When Paige got out her Tarot cards I was a little uneasy that it might be too scary. I nearly stopped reading when she talked about a seance, as it's one thing I hate. However it never happened, and Paige's strong enthusiasm dispersed the spooky parts.
It was hard to feel scared when I found the real reason for Curtis's melancholy, which was totally not what I expected. Although he had major reservations about the holiday, it ends up being the best thing for him. There wasn't anything specific that made this a 9/10 read, it's just very hard to love a book totally when I'm ill (and grumpy!).
You can find out more on Elen's website.
For another adventure trail try The Blackhope Enigma by Teresa Flavin