Mischief at Midnight by Esme Kerr
|Mischief at Midnight by Esme Kerr|
|Category: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: Robert James|
|Summary: Slightly disappointing follow-up to last year’s fun The Glass Bird Girl.|
|Buy? Maybe||Borrow? Maybe|
|Pages: 320||Date: May 2015|
|Publisher: Chicken House Ltd|
At the slightly strange school of Knight's Haddon, there's always something intriguing going on. New girl Janet, cool and confident even when arguing with the teachers, is the big surprise for Edie this term, and they become friends - but Anastasia feels forced out by the newer student's presence. Then some things happen which make Edie start to wonder if Janet is hiding something - can she solve another mystery?
I enjoyed the first book of this series and was looking forward to this sequel for ages. Sadly, I feel a bit let down. The mystery here isn't as strong as it is in book one, and the newest character, Janet, doesn't feel as fleshed out as either Edie or Anastasia do. It also feels as if not a lot of lasting significance happens in terms of the overall series - while I felt The Glass Bird Girl did a great job of giving us a satisfying resolution to the central adventure story, it also planted seeds for longer-running storylines, which aren't advanced as far as I'd have expected here.
In addition, there's an interlude back at Edie's cousins' house here. From the way her cousins behave towards Janet, I'm wondering if the idea is to try and make them into more well-rounded and believable characters than they were in book one. If so, I'd personally prefer it if they stopped mentioning the scene in book one where they cook her pet fish and try to make her eat it; it makes the oldest one, Lyle seem like he's going to grow up to be Norman Bates and I find him too repulsive to enjoy any scenes with him in. As with the first book, the school scenes are significantly stronger than those at home - and, thankfully, make up the majority of the book.
I still like both Edie and Anastasia and the dynamic between the pair of them is interesting because it's not really a level playing field when it comes to their relationship - as a result of the events of the previous book, Edie will always feel in the debt of Anastasia's father, and it makes it more difficult for the girls to navigate their friendship at times. Another strong point is the teachers - I mentioned in my review of The Glass Bird Girl that they were some of the strongest characters and that continues to be the case here; I particularly like Miss Fotheringay. Actually, the strongest relationship in the book apart from the central friendship is clearly the slightly strange one between Edie and the headteacher. On the one hand, they're a young student and a schoolmistress; on the other, Miss Fotheringay clearly feels affection for Edie as the daughter of her old friend - and this is picked up on by numerous others at the school, who, perhaps with reason, are annoyed by the supposed favouritism.
Overall, I can't particularly recommend this as a read, but I still think the first one is well worth taking a look at and shows promise; that probably built up enough goodwill for me to come back to the series if/when there's a third. (Especially if it takes place entirely at school!)
While this is a contemporary mystery, it has a decidedly old-fashioned feel, which is part of the appeal of the series to me. If you like historical crime, also set in a school, with a similar feel then you should check out Murder Most Unladylike (Wells & Wong Mystery 1) by Robin Stevens.
You can read more book reviews or buy Mischief at Midnight by Esme Kerr at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
You can read more book reviews or buy Mischief at Midnight by Esme Kerr at Amazon.com.
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