Thursday, July 9, 2015

MG Mystery: Nooks and Crannies by Jessica Lawson

23309600Published: June 2nd 2015 by Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers
Genres: MG Mystery
Pages: 336 pages
Format: Hardcover
Source:  Giveaway  copy provided by author following interview hosted by From the Mixed-Up Files

From Goodreads:  "Tabitha Crum is a girl with a big imagination and a love for mystery novels, though her parents think her only talent is being a nuisance. She doesn't have a friend in the world, except her pet mouse, Pemberley, with whom she shares her dingy attic bedroom.

Then, on the heels of a rather devastating announcement made by her mother and father, Tabitha receives a mysterious invitation to the country estate of the wealthy but reclusive Countess of Windermere, whose mansion is rumored to be haunted. There, she finds herself among five other children, none of them sure why they've been summoned. But soon, a very big secret will be revealed— a secret that will change their lives forever and put Tabitha’s investigative skills to the test."

Nooks and Crannies  is the kind of book for fans of  Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Westing Game, Matilda and Clue.   There were so many things that I loved about this book.  For starters, that cover,  I love  how a keyhole was incorporated into the title.  Just lovely.  And all the details, Tabitha running with a key in her hand, Pemberly peaking out of the pocket of her apron. The old mansion in the background and the books and cobwebs on the table.  There is a very British feel to the story in the characters and words that Lawson chooses to use to describe the setting,  like this passage "The cobblestone streets in the village of Wilting were made eerie and muted by thick November fog, and clip-clopping carriage horses snorted up and down the road emerging, and disappearing into the mist.  Almost like ghosts, Tabitha mused."   

Lawson created the perfect kind of setting for her murder mystery.  Hollingsworth Hall is a creepy mansion set in the Lake District of England during 1907.  The mansion is filled with hidden passageways, locked doors, a lovely large library and creepy mysterious noises at night.  It's the kind of place that you can just see yourself inside with its long corridors and old paintings on the walls.  There are "plenty of mysteries but no crime" at first,  but then the maid Mary Pettigrew  is possibly murdered and a series of plot twists, dangers and a need to figure out just what this countess has planned for her guests ensues.  

Tabitha is such a wonderful character who reminded me so much of Roald Dahl's Matilda. She has this miserable home life with parents that are unloving, neglectful and downright rotten.  They were set to send her off to an orphanage at the beginning of the story, that is until they thought a weekend at Hollingsworth Hall might turn out to be "profitable." Tabitha's only salvation are a love for reading her Inspector Pensive novels (think Sherlock Holmes) and her friend and confidant Pemberley (kinda like a Watson to her Inspector Pensive).   Having Pemberley as her partner, Tabitha can say all the things she would want to say, but is to shy to say.    Problem is that people think she is talking to herself and this alienates her from making friends. Tabitha is very imaginative, observant, a storyteller and clings to the hope that one day her parents will grow to love her, so she minds what they say, doesn't complain, despite her mother telling her  "You want us to love you, is that right? Love, Tabitha Crum, is to be earned, not given away to just anyone like a festering case of fleas."  You really can't help feeling sorry for how lonely Tabitha is, while despising her parents.  Just look at this quote by Tabitha

"Why, oh why, was it so much easier to interact with Pemberley than with people?  It was desperately confusing to both yearn for others to include you and half wish that they wouldn't." 

 Oh, but all those changes that occurred as Tabitha became this mini inspector putting together the clues to  find out just why they were all summoned to Hollingsworth Hall in the first place, such wonderful character development.  And the Pensive expressions that she recalled from stories dotting the beginning of each chapter, were delightful.  "When hope has left your side, carry on with the assumption that it simply went to fetch a quick bite to eat and will return shortly."

 I highly recommend Nooks and Crannies for someone looking for a story with a classic feel, a strong heroine that you can't help but root for, plus a nice mystery bundled into one.  

Favorite line:

 "if only life were a book, and I could choose precisely what part I played."

1 comment:

  1. I have been wanting to read this one since I first saw the cover. After reading your review- I hope I get to read it sooner rather than later. It sounds wonderful and I love the line you shared. :)