The Mystery of Wickworth Manor by Elen Caldecott

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The Mystery of Wickworth Manor by Elen Caldecott

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Buy The Mystery of Wickworth Manor by Elen Caldecott at Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Robert James
Reviewed by Robert James
Summary: Pleasant if uninspired tale of two children trying to find out the mystery behind a painting of a servant. It didn't grip me but the ending is cleverly plotted - you might want to give it a try.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Maybe
Pages: 208 Date: July 2012
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1408820483

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Paige Owens is really looking forward to going to secondary school. She's sure that a school trip to Wickworth Manor, to meet up with the other students who will be starting their new school in the autumn, will be fabulous. Newcomer Curtis Okafor is far more nervous about the visit, especially since he doesn't know anyone. When he finds a portait of a young black servant hidden away, though, and Paige finds an old letter which mentions it, the pair team up to do some detective work to try and work out why the portrait isn't on display.

This was a reasonably pleasant read with little to stand out from the crowd until a strong ending. The characters seem rather flat - Curtis is rather scared, Paige is somewhat overbearing, and there's little to round either of them out. Neither came across as being particularly likeable, while the rest of the characters don't get an awful lot of time on the page - which would be fine if the central pairing was more strongly developed but seems a wasted opportunity as it is. I'm struggling to say all that much more about the book, to be honest - I read it a couple of weeks ago and have been putting this review off because there's just not much that sticks in my mind. Caldecott's writing style is a bit on the bland side. It's not actively bad, and this is certainly an easy read, it just doesn't have anything that grabbed me or made me want to reread it now I've found out what happens.

In fairness, I was reasonably surprised by what did happen - the explanation of the mystery was a clever one which Caldecott handled well, and the surprising but believable ending is the main reason you might want to give this one a try despite my other issues with it.

Overall, not a strong recommendation but perhaps worth getting out of the library for a look.

For another story aimed at a similar age range about mismatched children working together, I really loved Billie Templar's War by Ellie Irving.

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Buy The Mystery of Wickworth Manor by Elen Caldecott at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Mystery of Wickworth Manor by Elen Caldecott at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy The Mystery of Wickworth Manor by Elen Caldecott at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Mystery of Wickworth Manor by Elen Caldecott at Amazon.com.

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