Review: The Swifts

Written by  Beth Lincoln
Illustrated by Claire Powell
Published by Puffin Books

The Swifts is a wickedly humorous, action-packed whodunnit with the most brilliant opening that perfectly captures the quirky playfulness and delicious darkness that makes this a dazzlingly mesmerising read, and one that I cannot recommend highly enough.

Shenanigan Swift is named – like all her family members – from a revered Family Dictionary on the day that they are born.  This Dictionary gives a name and definition and it is rather expected that the recipient will live up to their aptronym.  After all, it’s already been engraved on their headstone in the cellar!  And, to be fair, Shenanigan is rather mischievous as her sister Felicity will attest but, when real trouble visits the family, she proves herself to be much more than chief mischief-maker …

Now, what trouble could I be referring to?  Only a spot of murder and mayhem with a dash of treasure-hunting thrown in! When Aunt Inheritance, the Family Archivist, calls a family reunion to once-again search for the much-needed lost family fortune, the wonderfully eccentric family descend on the house intent on locating the hoard.  However, plans for their search are brought to an abrupt pause – not end as there is treasure to be found after all – by the small matter of the attempted murder of Arch-Aunt Schadenfreude.    

Luckily, Shenanigan is ready and mostly willing to find the culprit and turns her hand to sleuthing alongside her sisters, Felicity and Phenomena and cousin Erf.  As with all great detectives, they compile a list of suspects – and there are many – and then begin the process of elimination.  Shenanigan tends to go with her gut feeling, but Phenomena is a genius scientist who is intent on finding evidence.  But before they can find the culprit, there are more deaths in really rather unusual circumstances.  Can the young Swifts solve the case before more family members are killed off?  Could the lost treasure be a motive for the crime?

Oh my goodness:  this was brilliant – sheer brilliance of the glowing, dazzling and genius kind!  I loved the secrets hidden by both characters and the house, the wordplay, the delightfully quirky Family, the twistiness and cleverness of the whodunnit and John the Cat:  I really liked John the Cat!

Shenanigan is such a likeable character.  She is expected to be a troublemaker as decreed by the Family Dictionary at her birth and whilst, I suspect, she has enjoyed living up to this expectation, she is not defined by her name.  She is clever, courageous and tenacious as she helps her sisters and cousin catch the culprit.  Yes – she makes mistakes along the way, but she does what she thinks is right regardless of the consequences – mostly!  I loved the relationship between Shenanigan and her sisters.  They might annoy each other, but they are there to support when it is needed. 

The black and white illustrations are absolutely stunning and include chapter headings and full pages.  They really capture the dark gothic humour and quirkiness of the Family.  And there’s Shenanigan’s brilliant Map of the House with trapdoors, hidden rooms and Scrabble with a difference! 

The Swifts is a wickedly witty whodunnit that is guaranteed to enchant and entertain young readers of 9+.

Thank you so much to Ellen and Puffin Books for sending me a copy of the gorgeous hardback in exchange for my honest opinion.

3 thoughts on “Review: The Swifts

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