A big thanks to the publishers for providing me with Julia Golding’s new childrens mystery through Netgalley – it was such a fun read!
Name: Jane Austen Investigates: The Abbey Mystery
Author: Julia Golding
Release Date: 23/4/2021
It’s 1789 and a young Jane Austen turns detective as she seeks to solve the mysterious happenings at Southmoor Abbey. When a carriage accident forces a change of plans, 13-year-old Jane is sent to be a companion to Lady Cromwell for a week as the household prepares to celebrate the eldest son’s coming-of-age party. While there, Jane vows to solve the mystery of the ghostly monk in the Abbey grounds – for she does not believe in such stories!
But this is not the only strange occurrence for the adventurous young Jane to investigate. There are shivery night-time investigations, an Indian girl with secret talents, a library fire, two prize horses in danger, and friends to save from false accusations.
With notebook in hand and her faithful dog Grandison by her side, will Jane overcome the continuous obstacles and find out the truth?
Synopsis from Goodreads
Ahhh just look at that cover! Now whilst I’m not the biggest classics fan, when I saw the words Jane Austen and historical detective, I was all in. Plus, the cover is BEAUTIFUL. ‘The Abbey Mystery’ follows a young Jane Austen sent away to a rich landowners’ estate and has to solve, not a murder as I’d first thought, but a robbery. Whilst you may ask, ‘do I need to know Jane Austen books to read this one?’ My answer is not in the least. To be honest, I thought it was a bit of unrelated detail that she was Jane Austen – the only reference to her growing up to be the great woman herself was that this Jane enjoyed writing. And had the same name. It felt more of a way to grab your attention without having to create an entirely new heroine, but I really enjoyed Jane’s character all the same.
I always love the omniscient narrator trope. The one where the narrator will correct the other characters – like if someone says ‘There will be no drama at the ball’ and the narrator cuts in with, ‘They couldn’t be more wrong’. It was used a few times in this book to create humor or tension – both of which were expertly done. I haven’t read Julia Golding’s other books, but after reading this, I think I’d like to.
Whilst The Abbey Mystery is aimed at children, the vocabulary isn’t childish and it’s well written. I loved this world of petticoats and prized horses – if you enjoyed the setting of Bridgerton, this is the book for you! (I was almost going to say ‘if you enjoyed Bridgerton, this is the book for you’ but would like to clarify that this is definitely not the same market 😂).
Also, I thought that the clues for the actual mystery were concise but consistent enough to keep you guessing. And whilst the actual explanation felt a bit rushed (I had to think about it for a while), it was a short book so I understand why Golding kept it brief.
Finally, Jane is a brilliant character and pretty funny – I actually laughed out loud a few times! There was some really empowering quotes; it was feminist in the way that a lot of historical children’s mysteries are. I’d recommend The Abbey Mystery for fans of the Murder Most Unladylike series by Robin Stevens or the Lady Grace series by Grave Cavendish (which I’d forgotten I used to be obsessed with) – or anyone looking for a fun light read.