Review: The Mystery of the Jewelled Moth by Katherine Woodfine

Middle grade Sherlock that passes the Bechdel Test.

Publication Date: 25th February 2016
Publisher: Egmont

The Mystery of the Jewelled Moth is a fantastic sequel to Woodfine’s debut The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow. The main characters, Sophie and Lil, are wonderful to read and the assisting characters also have strong, well-rounded roles. It is particularly such a breath of fresh air to have a friendship group with both boys and girls, where the girls are allowed the greater role. Woodfine proves expertly that a book about girls is not just a book for girls; the story and relationships are universal.

The writing is fluid and a pleasure to engage with, with an Edwardian backdrop and a careful knowledge of the London of that age. In fact, as is made evident at the end, Woodfine has done her research – especially into the Chinese community in the East End – which certainly shines through as she treats the character Mei and her family with uncommon sensitivity.

The twists are unexpected and the plot is intricately knitted together. Intrigue, theft and even murder add up to create the bigger picture. It is aimed at an age group during which I was just starting to read Agatha Christie, and the depictions of the flamboyant qualities of the English upper classes are certainly comparable. Júlia Sardà’s occasional illustrations add to the gilt atmosphere and complement the text’s vivid imagery.

I recommend this novel to anyone with any appreciation of mystery. It is lively and unpredictable – a perfect introduction to the genre for younger readers. It is a highly enjoyable read, and one which has left me craving the next instalment.

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