Review: Mystery of the Night Watchers

Illustrations by Saara Söderlund, Published by Usborne

What an utterly spellbinding story!  This is an engrossing historical adventure, set in the Edwardian era at a time when the arrival of Halley’s comet acts as the catalyst for an incredibly intriguing mystery that kept me utterly enthralled throughout.   

Twelve-year-old Nancy cannot help but notice that her mother is acting strangely and, when she tells her daughters that they are taking a trip away for a few days, she finds herself leaving Leeds behind and travelling to her birthplace, Suffolk.  They are to stay with her maternal Grandfather whose existence has been kept a secret from her.  Not only that, but the girls are forbidden from leaving his home, Cupola House, and must remain hidden from any prying eyes.  Her Grandfather is an apothecary and keen astronomer who has an observatory on the roof which the girls are not allowed to visit.

Nancy cannot resist breaking this stipulation and, after visiting the rooftop observatory, she discovers that the telescope is pointing to the rooftops of the town rather than the sky and, when she sees her mother and Grandfather creep out of the house at night, Nancy’s curiosity is immediately aroused.  She is determined to find answers to her questions:  what is the real reason for their visit to her Grandfather’s house?  What secrets are being kept from her?

And so begins a thoroughly absorbing, fascinating mystery as Nancy, her sister and their new friend, Burch, work together to untangle family secrets that have been kept hidden; as they make breath-taking discoveries that made me gasp out loud; and as they fight to thwart a villain whose accusations and avarice has caused a family to be torn apart. 

I really enjoyed finding out more about people’s divided reactions to Halley’s Comet, some viewing it with fear and superstition, and others eagerly anticipating its arrival with a sense of wonder and excitement.

Nancy is such a wonderful young girl.  She has a strong moral compass and cannot abide people being treated unfairly. Her strength in standing up for what she believes in helps others to face their own fears.  Nancy is courageous, curious and determined to unravel the mystery surrounding her family.  I adored the relationship between Nancy and her younger half-sister Violet.  They seem to have been growing apart in Leeds, but their visit to Suffolk has brought them closer again and I loved not only how Nancy looks after her sister, but also how forthright and curious Violet is.

This is a gripping adventure with a brilliantly evoked sense of mystery, that kept me entranced throughout as secrets were revealed and lies unravelled against the backdrop of a wonderfully depicted Edwardian Society both in fear of, and excited by, the arrival of Halley’s comet.  Perfect for younger, and older, fans of historical fiction.

Thank you to Fritha Lindqvist and Usborne for a review copy in exchange for my honest opinion.

This is my second book for my 20 (10) Books of Summer Reading Challenge which is hosted by Cathy Brown on her blog at 746Books.com

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