I have been a mystery fan for as long as I can remember. My earliest memories are of reading Encyclopedia Brown and The Boxcar Children. In my teens I moved on to young adult mysteries by Phyllis Whitney as well as some Sherlock Holmes. Children often have difficulty finding things to read after graduating from Encyclopedia Brown or The Boxcar Children, but thankfully, Julia Golding is helping to bridge that gap (and also raising interest in the author Jane Austen--double kudos for that!). I was thrilled that I could preview her first title, The Abbey Mystery, in her new series, "Jane Austen Investigates."
I knew I would love the book because:
- It is set in England
- It features a young Jane Austen
- It was written by Julia Golding (check out my review of her book The Tigers in the Tower)
Mysteries are a wonderful tool for helping children begin to make observations and pay attention to detail as they read. Readers become detectives themselves as they seek to read between the lines and notice any irregularities in the story that might hint at the solution. Therefore, mysteries can play a large part in helping sharpen critical thinking skills.
In The Abbey Mystery, a young Jane Austen has been sent as a substitute companion to an aunt (due to her sister's untimely injury). Sitting idly by and pursuing lady-like endeavors is not exactly Jane's cup of tea. Thankfully there are young servants with whom she can befriend while there (very carefully, so as not to get them into trouble with their employer). Being a precocious adolescent, Jane is fueled by her spunk and curiosity to investigate the disappearance of two of her uncle's prized horses. When a man is falsely accused of the theft, Jane feels she has no choice but to discover the criminal on her own (with some help from her new friends).
Readers of middle grade all the way through adult will enjoy the glimpse into what Jane Austen's childhood may have been like (she's not exactly here to contradict). While Jane was definitely more of the "poor relation," I loved that she befriended those who were beneath her. And she did not shrink back from exposing evil even at great risk to herself. Young Jane Austen is a heroine I hope to meet again in future books from Julia Golding!
Book's release date is April 23, 2021 but you can pre-order a copy today! (affiliate link).
Disclaimer: I received a free digital copy of Jane Austen Investigates: The Abbey Mystery from NetGalley for the purpose of review. No other compensation was received.