Monday, September 7, 2015

Secret Circle Mysteries #1 Monster Lake and #2 Haunted River

In Secret Circle Mysteries #1, The Mystery of Monster Lake, Roy Turnbull and Joanne Garland find a map in a dilapidated old mill.  Immediately, they realize that the map is old Long Tom's map that reputedly leads to a lost gold mine.  Dan Duffy overhears and later tries to steal the map, which gets torn in half.  Duffy retains one half of the map and decides to go after the gold.  Roy and Joanne, along with Joanne's brother and father, travel by canoe up to Monster Lake in search of the gold.  Duffy and his accomplices pursue and threaten them.

It's not clear exactly how old the children are.  They are referred to as "youngsters," so they can't be older teenagers and are not likely younger teenagers.  I would guess that the children are probably around 10 to 12 years old.

Even though this is a children's book, the threats made between the villains and the adults in the Garland party are grim and deadly serious.  In one case, a man threatens to throw boiling water in another man's face and graphically describes what will happen.  As expected, the other man backs down.

The book also has some violence that is not typical of series books.  Young protagonists do sometimes get hit or punched in series books, but typically, rough action like that only happens to the boys and never to the girls.  On page 106, Joanne bites Duffy, who then hits her in the head.
Duffy jerked his hand away with a roar of pain and then swung it back in a blow that made her head ring.
I didn't expect the monster in the lake to be that big of a deal or that dangerous.  I was surprised when the monster in the lake turns out to be something quite dangerous and deadly.  Four people die in this book.

This book is outstanding.  I thoroughly enjoyed it, and I read it in less than one day since I was so interested in the story.  The book is written well.  The moment I finished reading the last paragraph, I thought, Wow, that was good.  This book stayed with me after I finished it.

In Secret Circle Mysteries #2, The Riddle of the Haunted River, David and Susan head out in a river expedition with their older teenage guide, Alan.  Mr. Doone, David and Susan's father, was to go on the expedition as well, but someone beat him up.  After the young people set out, they realize that someone is set on causing them problems.  Their canoe is slashed, and Susan is abducted.  A legend suggests that the river is haunted, but could the culprit instead be a human?

In this book, the girl, Susan, gets the worst of it, similar to what happened in the previous title.

I enjoyed the story, but it began to drag for me towards the end.

This story is very good, but it is a step down from the previous title.  The story doesn't have as much suspense.

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