Author: Julia Golding
Series: Jane Austen Investigates
Genre: Mystery | Historical Fiction
Audience: Middle Grade | YA
Publication Date: 21st April 2021
Review copy provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion.
1789. 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 adventurous young Jane to investigate. There are spooky 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 faithful dog Grandison by her side, will Jane overcome the obstacles to finding the truth?
The Abbey Mystery is a fun and action-packed story, bringing life to Jane Austen and events that may or may not have inspired her writing.
We know who Jane is from the beginning. She’s plucky, headstrong, quick-witted and doesn’t take any nonsense. She is the kind of character you know will get into trouble and defy orders (normally someone who’d drive me insane), but you love her for it otherwise the Abbey mystery wouldn’t be solved and there’d be no fun. We also see her as a writer, constantly observing and overhearing people, writing things down in her notebooks, and writing letters to Cassandra after something exciting has happened. For readers who won’t yet know Jane Austen and her books, it is a good insight and introduction to Jane Austen and her mind. For those readers like myself who do, it is a reflection on her books and characters, recognising references and details we’ve heard before – Southmoor Abbey and its mystery reminds me of Northanger Abbey, it reaffirms my notion that Jane Austen is Catherine Morland from Northanger Abbey… If this is actually the case, I would love to see and read future instalments, wondering what references and easter eggs will be mixed in with the storylines.
Saying that, I admit that for the first half of the book, I was waiting for the fun and major chaos to kick in. There were small elements that kept me reading, like Grandison’s antics (who doesn’t love a funny, fictional dog!), and Jane making friends with other characters on the estate, but at the same time I felt a little bored when it calmed down a little in between all the action. I found myself speed reading. However when the bigger mystery became the forefront of the story, everything picked up and certainly kept me on my toes, wondering how Jane was going to figure out the truth and react to the consequences of her actions once the adults found out.
All in all, it was a very fun read and I’m geared up to see what future happenings are in store for Jane.