Book Title: The Secret of Dinswood
Author: Ellen Alexander
Series: N/A (Standalone)
Publisher: BHC Press
Publication Date: February 26th 2019
Genres: Fantasy, Mystery, Middle Grade
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Desperate to get away from a home where she no longer feels wanted, twelve-year-old Emma Higsby is elated when she wins a scholarship to the prestigious Dinswood Academy boarding school.
Emma quickly falls in love with the renovated castle nestled in the heart of the mountains. But when rumors surface that her new school is having financial problems and may have to close, she begins to search for a way to save her new home.
When she discovers a riddle of buried treasure left by the eccentric school’s founder, Lord Dinswood, she and her friends must use their courage and intelligence to solve each clue.
But someone else is searching for the treasure as well. Emma and her friends will have to race against time and discover the secret of Dinswood first!
I received a copy of this book from Netgalley (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. This does not influence my thoughts in any way.
The book in a few words: Boarding school. Pirate treasure. Mysterious hunt. Beautiful friendships. If that does not intrigue you at least a tiny bit, then I’m not sure this book’s for you.
The Secret of Dinswood follows a group of students from Dinswood Academy in their quest to save their school from financial troubles by hunting for Lord Dinswood’s hidden treasure. For a school that’s been struggling financially, Dinswood Academy is so freaking extravagant! This is exactly the kind of school I would’ve dreamed of attending during my childhood.
Emma and her friends only went on this hunt to save their school from crippling financial troubles. They go on and on about how they must save the school because it means everything to them despite only being there for, what, a few months? Granted, they did meet their best friends there but is going to separate schools really that awful to risk their lives on the hunt?
The main character here is so well-developed; I love her so much! At the start of the book, I could really feel Emma’s insecurities and anxiousness of being out of place in Dinswood Academy. Since it’s a prestigious boarding school, only accepting the richest of the rich, Emma could only afford to go there because of her scholarship. Despite the best efforts of her friends, she can’t deny that sometimes, she feel alienated among the wealthy crowd of students. I absolutely sympathize for her because I, personally, know that feeling which made me love and understand her better.
With that, I’d like to mention that Martha, Emma’s best friend, is the epitome of a great friend. She has always been there for Emma from the beginning, and she has never let the superficial things like financial status get in the way of their friendship. However, although Martha has been a wonderful buddy to Emma, she hasn’t been much help in the treasure hunt and frankly, she’s a bit repetitive too. In another time, and in another story, I really would have loved her more.
The pacing was a bit slow at first, which allowed readers to fully get to know the main characters and get accustomed to the school. Unfortunately, I think the book could have done with a little bit of a faster pace in terms of the mystery since they only discovered a substantial piece of clue at around 72% of the book, and they were still clueless up to that point.
This is a great book and I would really recommend it if you don’t mind a slower pace in mystery and if you love stories in boarding schools as much as I do!
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