A Red-Haired Lady, A Willow Tree & A House with A Difficult Past (Middle Grade Feature: The Secret Files of Fairday Morrow)
Time stopped as the two stared into the mirror. There stood a lady. She beckoned them from behind the glass, her green eyes flashing, fiery red hair static with electricity. Fairday felt something wrap around her ankle and tore her gaze from the reflection to look down. A glowing willow branch had ensnared her leg and was tightening its grip.
This is the latest middle-grade mystery that's been making its round in the book-blogosphere. What had exactly happened to the Begonias? The daughter had gone missing on her wedding day, and the father had died mysteriously some time later. Nobody ever found out how or why. Many years later, the Morrow family bought the haunted mansion for a Bed & Breakfast business, and while restoring parts of it, the elder daughter, Fairday, stumbled into a room that ought to be locked forever. And that's when this story begins!
Eleven-year-old Fairday Morrow is less than thrilled that her family is moving thousands of miles from civilization to the quiet country town of Ashpot, Connecticut, where she’s absolutely certain she’ll die of boredom.
As if leaving Manhatten and her best friend, Lizzy, the only other member of the elite Detective Mystery Squad, weren’t bad enough, Fairday is stuck living in the infamous Begonia House, a creepy old Victorian with dark passageways, a gigantic dead willow tree, and a mysterious past.
Before she can even unpack, strange music coming from behind a padlocked door leads Fairday up a spiral staircase and into a secret room, where she finds an ancient mirror, a brass key, and a curious portrait of a red-haired lady. These seemingly unrelated items prove to be the first in a series of clues that takes Fairday, the visiting Lizzy, and their new squad member, Marcus, on an
Can the members of the Detective Mystery Squad piece together the puzzle before it’s too late? Or will whatever’s causing trouble find Fairday and her friends first?
What readers will find:
~ a lady with fiery red hair haunting through a mirror
~ a willow tree that's bent on grabbing people and whisking them to their death
~ a silver hourglass with red sand that doesn't fall when flipped
~ a stove clock stuck at 3 o'clock
~ a house with a difficult past, and strange bagpipe music coming from one of the rooms
~ and yes, did I mention that the mirror pulls people into the other side?
Ah, the other side of ... what?
My Thoughts on the Story
I had a great time making a dash towards uncovering the mysteries of the Begonia House, lifting strands in the story like lifting the red hair of the female character who'd gone missing, so I could see the face of the truth beneath. Fairday, Lizzy and Marcus make up an amusing, curious and resourceful team of young detectives. A suspenseful plot, a quaint setting, a feisty pace and engaging illustrations throughout the book ~ highly recommended for readers with an adventurous spirit!
"Fifth-grader Fairday Morrow's new home lives up to its spooky reputation, but she and her companions in the Detective Mystery Squad find out why. At Begonia House, strains of bagpipe music issue from behind a padlocked door, grains of sand in an hourglass have stopped falling, and a malevolent weeping willow looms in the backyard. A magic mirror shows an invisible door; a wardrobe hides secrets and a portal. Ruby Begonia vanished more than 50 years ago. Is there also a ghost? Fairday has a new, helpful friend in classmate Marcus, and her best friend Lizzy can visit on weekends to help solve the mystery. What more could readers want?"
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