Review: Mystery of the Whistling Caves, by Helen Moss

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What it’s about: Scott and Jack Carter reluctantly arrive at their great aunt’s house for the summer while their father is away on work matters. The quiet Cornish town where she lives looks like it will be the most boring backdrop for a vacation ever until they meet local girl Emily Wild and her lively dog Drift. The four set off to explore the local attractions, including the lighthouse, castle and the amazing whistling caves which, according to legend, only stop whistling when the castle comes under attack. And, of course, this is what happens when treasures are stolen from an exhibition at the castle. Can Jack, Scott, Emily and Drift solve the mystery? This is the first in Helen Moss’s adventure series.

Holly’s review: I like this book because it is quite like a sort of Scooby Doo mystery and I like Scooby Doo. But I think the writer Helen Moss tries to make it sound cool and it is very obvious that she is trying to. In this book, Jack, one of the main characters, appears to be stupid in the way Helen Moss describes him. I also think she tries to make the book sound cool and funny which does not appeal to me. Because you can tell she is doing it and overdoes the coolness and funniness. The mystery is quite confusing but has a good storyline. Overall, I think this book has more downs than it does ups. I think this book is aimed at boys as I think the writer is being cool for their benefit.

Sam’s review: It has been interesting to see how Holly has reacted to this story. She finished reading The Mystery of the Vanishing Skeleton (the 6th book in Moss’s series) and immediately started on this, so I thought that she would work her way through this series in the same way as she would Enid Blyton’s mysteries. However, I am not sure this will be the case. She says she would like to read more to see if they get better but after the rather scathing review she’s given above I need convincing! I know what Holly means about the way in which Moss characterises the boys. Their rather ‘moody’ teenager attitude makes me roll my eyes as an adult but it appears that it has the same effect on Holly, so perhaps she is right and these are aimed more at boys. Or perhaps not. Sometimes writers try hard to make their characters appeal to children or teens by writing in their voice. However, if this isn’t done convincingly enough it unfortunately has the opposite effect. Perhaps Holly and I are just too devoted to Blyton to read a similarly written but modernised book and enjoy it but one thing that strikes me is that Blyton’s characters aren’t portrayed as lazy or moody or sarcastic (generally speaking). They are motivated, excited and interested and that helps interest the reader. Maybe it’s a stretch too far to think that modern children/teens would act in the same way as Blyton’s when presented with an adventure, in which case perhaps it’s time to either decide to write an adventure story featuring modern young people acting in the way they would normally in life rather than expecting them to morph from sulky teens to enthusiastic, ice-cream-eating versions.

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