Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Book Review: The Happy Valley Mystery by Kathryn Kenny (Trixie Belden #9)

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Characters; exciting conclusion
Cons: Characters hard on Trixie. Trixie said, "Mark also finds the narration annoying!"
The Bottom Line:
The book has some flaws
But as a kid I enjoyed
Kids today will, too

The Mystery of the Missing Sheep

The Happy Valley Mystery will always hold a special place in my heart. Why? Because it was one of the first Trixie Beldens I read as a 13-year-old, so I was still getting to know Trixie and her friends. See, Trixie is a 13-year-old with a nose for danger and mystery. She and her best friend Honey Wheeler have decided to form their own detective agency when they grow up, but they get plenty of practice in these books. Fortunately, they also get plenty of help in the form of Trixie's older brothers Brian and Mart and Honey's adopted brother Jim. While all the teens live in a small New York village, this book finds them visiting the Beldens' uncle in Iowa.

Uncle Andrew has invited Trixie and her friends to spend spring break at his sheep ranch. They are making new friends and enjoying the time away from chores at home. But someone has been stealing sheep from ranches in the area, including Uncle Andrew's place. Trixie thinks solving the mystery is the perfect way to repay her uncle for his hospitality. Unfortunately, she has few clues to follow. Could it be the sinister looking man she saw across the field? And does the mystery light in the uninhabited woods have anything to do with it?

As a kid, I loved this book. As an adult, I have a few more reservations. I'm not a fan of the books where no one takes Trixie and her theories seriously, and that happens quite often here. Of course, Trixie does bring it on herself with all the times she jumps to conclusions without having all the facts. On the other hand, the ending is a wonderful exciting scene that I still love.

The characters are wonderful. They seem true to character and really do care about each other. And they have plenty of fun in this book. Most of that comes after they meet neighbors Ned, Bob, and Barbara who are great new characters. While the series never plays up the romance between the characters, the book ends with a major scene between Trixie and Honey's brother Jim that pleases many fans of that pairing.

Then there is the writing style. I never noticed this as a kid, but the author uses dialogue to tell as much of the story as possible. I mean, really, how often do people tell each other what they are doing? Now that I've noticed, it drives me batty after a couple chapters. Plus, the author overuses exclamation marks! I bet there's at least one on every page! So not only are the characters telling each other what they are doing, but they are very excited about it!!!!

As a kid, I would easily rate this book 5 stars. As an adult, I would probably give it three. Since it is aimed at kids, I was tempted to go with 5 stars, but I am going to average the two and give it 4 stars. The Happy Valley Mystery is enjoyable, but it isn't an example of the best the series has to offer.

If you do enjoy this book, you'll be looking for the rest of the Trixie Belden Mysteries in order.

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