Category Archives: Book Review: Mystery

Review of “The Secret of Sinbad’s Cave”

The Secret of Sinbad’s Cave
By Brydie Walker Bainsinbads seceret
Published through Smashwords
Pages 176

This is another book that I was invited to review by the author. It is about a group of friends that go on an exciting treasure hunt. It begins when Nat Sheppard, the main character, hears that her father has to sell the old family farm because it is losing money. But soon after, Nat discovers there may be a way to save the farm when she and her siblings, Jack and Kathleen, discover a secret room in their attic.  In the room, they find a chest with an old letter from Rewi Te Kaitiaki, their great-great grandfather, to Natalia, their great-great grandmother. The letter contains mysterious maps and a copy of the book “Sinbad the Sailor”.  Along with their friends, Riki, Abraham, Elijah, and Barnaby, they soon are on a treasure hunt in nearby caves searching for jewels. But they aren’t the only ones chasing the gems. A group of people, led by Cain Wylie, will destroy anything that gets in their way of getting the treasure.

The story is a great adventure, full of mysteries and surprises. Once, Nat barely dodges a bullet (literally) from Cain Wylie! And there is a part where Kathleen goes missing and Nat finds her in a magical, hidden grotto. Yes, there is even some magic in this story.

The story is set in New Zealand and the Māori culture is a pretty important part of the book.  The Māori are an ancient culture native to New Zealand. Two of the main characters, Riki and Abraham Te Kaitiaki, are decedents from the Māori tribe, and part of the treasure hunt includes legends from the Māori culture. It was interesting to learn a bit about the Māori through this book.

One of my favorite characters is Riki. She is always up for adventure and excitement. She is also smart and responsible. She always seems to know what to say or do. In one part of the book, she and her uncle Abraham even do some sort of Māori magic when they are being chased by Cain Wylie’s men. The magic raised Māori ghosts that made Cain Wylie’s crew run away screaming.

Although this is really a great book, there are a few small gaps in the story. Cain Wylie and his crew knew about the treasure, but it is not clear how they learned about it. They practically just show up out of the blues chasing the treasure. There is also a part in the book where Abraham explains why the treasure is called Sinbad’s Treasure, but his explanation is not clear. In particular, I’m not sure why people left the treasure chests as an offering to Sinbad. Was he considered a god? Although the gaps don’t hurt the story, I would still like to know the answers.

Overall, I think this is a great book. My 11 year-old brother wouldn’t like it because it has some “girl power”, so I think it’s more for girls ages 10-13.

By the way, a digital version of this book is free at Smashwords and other major book sellers. Also, this is the first book in “The Natnat Adventures.” The second book, “The Ship of Sight and The Hand of Shadow,” just came out.


Review of “Nancy Drew Diaries: The Magician’s Secret”

Nancy Drew Diaries: The Magician’s SecretNancy_Drew_Diaries-The_Magician’s_Secret
By Carolyn Keene
Published by Simon & Schuster
Pages: 156

Most adults know who Nancy Drew is. She has been around since the 1930s. There have many different series about Nancy Drew, including TV shows, movies, and of course books.

Nancy Drew is a detective who goes around the city of River Heights solving mysteries. In some series, she is a young adult, and in others she is a teen. There is even a series called “Nancy Drew and the Clue Crew” where she is a third grader (this is one of my favorites!).

In this book Nancy is a teenager. It starts when Nancy and her friends go to a magic show where the magician makes the River Heights courthouse disappear! But it turns out the courthouse isn’t the only thing that disappears. So does an important box connected to a local jewel heist! However, before they can get the magician to return the box back, poof! He disappears. And all of the evidence about the heist points to the missing magician. Now it’s up to Nancy to track him down and solve the case.

I like the character of Nancy Drew and would love to have her as a friend, especially because she has lots of girl power! She goes on crazy adventures or, in this case, solves mysteries. And without any help from boys! I really like to read about girl heroes, and in some ways, Nancy is a hero. She saves the day and always discovers the bad guys. But, I don’t think I could keep up with all the exciting mysteries and cases! She has so many!

I have to say that book is not one of the better Nancy Drew books I’ve read. The mystery was a bit too easy to solve because the author tells you what kind of person the thief must be, then she introduces you to a character that fits that description exactly, but then Nancy doesn’t even consider that person until the end. Most of the other Nancy Drew stories I have read were much more challenging and I usually had to wait to the end to know who really did the crime.

However, even though this book was not one of my personal favorites, I do think that the book might be a good mystery story for younger kids, especially those who are just learning about mysteries.  When I first started reading mystery and detective stories, I had a hard time understanding what the mystery was about. But it got easier as I read more and more, and now I especially like them when they are really complicated.

Overall, I think this is a good book for girls ages 8-12.