MG Takes on Thursday

This is my weekly meme celebrating amazing middle-grade books, now with a re-vamped banner!

How to take part:

  • Post a picture of the front cover of a middle-grade book which you have read and would recommend to others with details of the author, illustrator and publisher.
  • Open the book to page 11 and share your favourite sentence. 
  • Write three words to describe the book.
  • Either share why you would recommend this book, or link to your review.

This week, I’m celebrating …

Written by M.G. Leonard & Sam Sedgman
Illustrated by Elisa Paganelli
Published by Macmillan Children’s Books

Favourite Sentence from Page 11:

‘What do you think about the Kratzenstein curse?’

This book in three words:

MYSTERY, TRAINS, ADVENTURE

Hal and his Uncle Nat are back for their fourth sleuthing adventure in Danger at Dead Man’s Pass.  This is a wonderfully exhilarating addition to the brilliant Adventures on Train series which kept me gripped from start to finish.

Hal and his Uncle Nat receive a letter from an old friend who wants their help to investigate a death in the family, a death that some believe could be linked to a family curse.  They find themselves aboard the Eurostar to Paris to meet the sender of the letter, Baron Essenbach, who asks them to go undercover as distant relatives of the rich, railway owners, the Kratzenstein family in order to uncover the truth about the unexpected death of Alexander Kratzenstein.

Taking the overnight train to Berlin, they meet their ‘family’ and travel with them to Schloss Kratzenstein, a huge manor nestled at the foot of the Harz mountains, aboard the family train in order to attend the funeral which is due to take place in the family mausoleum at the peak of the Brocken Mountain.

So begins an action-packed, intriguing adventure as Hal, together with some new friends, investigate the truth behind the death of Alexander Kratzenstein at Dead Man’s Pass.  Did he die of natural causes, was his death caused by an old supernatural curse, or is there another more recent reason for his untimely demise?  I LOVE the way Hal still manages to use his well-honed drawing skills to gather and analyse evidenceto help him solve the mystery even though he doesn’t have his sketchbook this time in order to maintain his disguise.  Hal finds himself following a trail of evidence leading to suspects, misdirection, clues and unexpected revelations.  Will he be able to uncover the truth behind the death before more misfortune strikes the family?

I loved the setting of Schloss Kratzenstein with its tower, indoor miniature railway and own railway station outside with old steam engines.  Having a meal delivered by a miniature train venturing around the table sounds wonderful, and drinking hot chocolate in a tower room with a snowy mountain view sounds idyllic! I also loved the historical and folklore references in the story and how these linked together to build tension within the mystery.

Hal is an incredibly likeable character who quickly develops friendships with others.  He is clever, inquisitive and determined, but he also enjoys having fun with his new friends, Herman, Ozan and Hilda who help him with his investigation, albeit unaware that they are in the company of the young train detective who is becoming well-known.  Hal and Nat also work more independently of each other for reasons I will refrain from mentioning for fear of any spoilers, but I will say that I love how the strands come together in this incredibly intriguing, suspenseful mystery.

The detailed illustrations which are scattered throughout the story are absolutely stunning and perfectly evoke the atmosphere and setting for this adventure.  I really appreciated the floorplan of Schloss Kratzenstein, and the inclusion of the names of the guests and family when they are sitting down for dinner!

I was definitely all aboard for this incredibly clever mystery which utterly engrossed me and kept me guessing until the end, and I can’t wait to get on board again for the next adventure! 

Thank you to Antonia and the Publisher, Macmillan Children’s Books, for an early copy in exchange for my honest opinion.

I’d love if anyone who wants to give this meme a go would comment in the comments box and include a link to your post so I can visit, comment and find some great middle-grade recommendations. If you do create a post and are on Twitter, and would like to share your post, please use the hashtag  #MGTakesOnThursday so I can find it, read it and share it!

6 thoughts on “MG Takes on Thursday

      1. Oh I totally understand Veronica. I have easily over 100 books on my bookshelves waiting to be read, yet can’t resist another one – and my birthday and Christmas are coming up and what do I ask for? And then there’s the review copies …. but I wouldn’t have it any other way!

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.