Enid Blyton - Shastrix Books

Enid Blyton

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Secret Seven on the Trail

Secret Seven on the Trail

Enid Blyton

11th October 2020

The fourth Secret Seven story is a classic of the series.

The seven children’s antagonism with Jack’s sister Susie and her friends is in full evidence, and there are several nice interactions between the groups, and some meta-references which are mildly amusing.

The mystery is straightforward but solid, with a good number of clues and peril for a younger audience. The only letdown is that once again Blyton’s characters demonstrate their now-extremely-obvious sexism, and Peter in particular has started to come across as a bit of a prat.

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Well Done, Secret Seven

Well Done, Secret Seven

Enid Blyton

24th July 2020

The third Secret Seven novel felt exceptionally weak to me.

It’s clearly aimed at a younger audience than the Five Find-Outers novels that I’ve read more recently, but this story in particular seemed to spend all of its focus on setting, and very little on plot.

The characters barely do any detective work, and almost everything just happens around them, or happens by mechanism of talking to parents. The story doesn’t live up to that in the previous two stories.

It feels slightly less dated though - there’s still some sexism and classism, but the sexism is at least partly challenged.

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Secret Seven Adventure

Secret Seven Adventure

Enid Blyton

27th June 2020

The second book in the Secret Seven series - a story I must have read several times as a child. Fairly safe I thought - a homely familiar tale of seven children from the 1950s (who in my head live in my grandparents’ house, despite in the narrative living on a farm).

Nope - dated in new and interesting ways - less sexism than I had expected based on the first novel. Now however into racism, playing at “Red Indians” and describing circus performers as scary when in their everyday clothes.

The datedness continued with visits to an animal-based circus, which while possibly still the norm at the time of writing felt very uncomfortable to read about today. And yet then suddenly my copy had the children using decimal currency - clearly someone has somehow decided that children won’t be able to cope with old money, despite all the other elements that have been now (or at least should be, especially in a children’s story) relegated to history.

I don’t know whether it’s worth commenting on the fact that Blyton, writing in the 1950s, has her characters walking around with badges with ‘SS’ marked on them.

The basic plot isn’t bad - it’s a solid mystery that the children get involved in and solve using their ingenuity, and there are the usual elements of tension between the children around their secret password. So it’s a shame that this is let down by the other elements of the story.

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The Secret Seven

The Secret Seven

Enid Blyton

24th May 2020

Having completed my adult revisitation to Enid Blyton’s Five Find-Outers series, I turned next to the Secret Seven, which had been my second-favourite of the prolific author’s mystery series as a child.

This first book sets up the group, introduces the main characters and sets them off on their first adventure.

I was slightly surprised by how different it feels to the other series - this is clearly aimed at a younger audience, and uses simpler language, is shorter (barely 100 pages) and the plotting and mystery more straightforward (there is so much blatant foreshadowing that I don’t think anyone of any age wouldn’t spot the twist coming).

The gender roles feel very dated right from the start, and this is I suspect going to be a recurring feature as I make my way through the 15 stories, but I can always hope…

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The Mystery of Banshee Towers

The Mystery of Banshee Towers

Enid Blyton

3rd May 2020

The final story in Enid Blyton's Five Find-Outers (and Dog) series feels different from the earlier fourteen. Home again for the holidays, the group decide to fill their days with excursions, and just happen to head up the hill to Banshee Towsers to see a gallery of paintings - where lo and behold a mystery awaits.

I don't know whether Blyton intended this to be the final adventure, and had assumed from vague memories of reading this as a child that my memories of it being different were probably because I had a different edition of this story to all the others.

But it still feels different reading it now - the tone of the narration is different, subtly more colloquial - almost feeling patronising to the reader in a way that wasn't the case in previous novels. Almost as if Blyton had lost the voice of the series in the three years between stories. There are returning elements - from early books as well as recurring characters.

And it continues to feel like a conclusion - the ending in particular feels like it's not going to lead to more adventures - it's wrapping up. And unlike Blyton's more famous series - The Famous Five and The Secret Seven - there's no follow up by another author.

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The Mystery of Holly Lane

The Mystery of Holly Lane

Enid Blyton

18th April 2020

Somehow I got lost in my read through of the Five Find-Outers series and skipped this one - going back it’s one of the best, so I’m glad I realised.

The five are back together for the school holidays, setting themselves random challenges, when Larry comes across an unusual gentleman, who is soon the victim of a crime. Thought the usual classic combination of clues, disguises, and a baffled policeman, the team aim to solve the mystery.

It’s got all the elements that make this my favourite of Blyton’s detective series, and I really enjoyed revisiting it.

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The Mystery of the Strange Messages

The Mystery of the Strange Messages

Enid Blyton

2nd January 2020

This is the absolute classic Five Find-Outers mystery. One of the best investigations that Fatty and his friends have had, and possibly one of the best that Enid Blyton ever wrote.

The clues stack up in turn like a grown-up detective story, and allow the reader to slowly piece things together at the same pace as the characters.

Erin’s guest appearance stands out as a returning legend of the series, and the focus on him and Fatty, and what feels like quite revealing points about their relative social status, and indeed a plot that in places seems to be part commentary on social issues, feels quite a diversion from the earlier books in the series which were very focussed on prim and proper behaviour.

Like I say, the best novel of Blyton’s I’ve read.

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Other reviewed books

The Mystery of the Missing Man
The Mystery of Tally-Ho Cottage
The Mystery of the Strange Bundle
The Mystery of the Vanished Prince
The Mystery of the Invisible Thief
The Mystery of the Pantomime Cat
The Mystery of the Hidden House
The Mystery of the Missing Necklace
The Mystery of the Spiteful Letters
The Mystery of the Secret Room
The Mystery of the Disappearing Cat
The Mystery of the Burnt Cottage

Unreviewed books

Five Are Together Again
Five Fall Into Adventure
Five Get Into a Fix
Five Get Into Trouble
Five Go Adventuring Again
Five Go Down to the Sea
Five Go Off In a Caravan
Five Go Off to Camp
Five Go To Billycock Hill
Five Go To Demon's Rocks
Five Go To Mystery Moor
Five Go To Smuggler's Top
Five Have a Mystery to Solve
Five Have a Wonderful Time
Five Have Plenty Of Fun
Five on a Hike Together
Five On A Secret Trail
Five on a Treasure Island
Five on Finniston Farm
Five on Kirrin Island Again
Five Run Away Together
Fun for the Secret Seven
Go Ahead, Secret Seven
Good Old Secret Seven
Good Work, Secret Seven
Look Out Secret Seven
Puzzle for the Secret Seven
Secret Seven Fireworks
Secret Seven Mystery
Secret Seven Win Through
Shock for the Secret Seven
The Mystery That Never Was
The Secret Island
The Secret Mountain
The Secret of Killimooin
The Secret of Moon Castle
The Secret of Spiggy Holes
The Secret Seven Short Story Collection
Three Cheers, Secret Seven

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