Friday, April 12, 2013

Book Review: The Mystery of the Blinking Eye by Kathryn Kenny (Trixie Belden #12)

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Great characters; interesting story
Cons: Perhaps too many characters? The prophecy
The Bottom Line:
Most fans love this book
But I find the prophecy
Drags it down for me




Thrilling Adventure.  Just Wish It Didn't Have that Prophecy.

The Mystery of the Blinking Eye has it all, fun, adventure, mystery, and danger. No wonder it's a favorite of many fans of the Trixie Belden series.

If you're new to the series, this will be a confusing place to start. You see, it's book #12 in a series, so most readers already know who the characters are. And there are a lot of them. There's 14-year-old Trixie Belden, her two older brothers Mart and Brian, her friends Honey Wheeler, Diana Lynch, Dan Mangan, and Jim Frayne, who is also Honey's adopted brother. Together, the seven teens have formed a club, the Bob-Whites of the Glen. Confused yet? I hope not because this book also mentions some characters introduced in The Mystery in Arizona and features Ned Schultz and Bob and Barbara Hubbell, who we met in The Happy Valley Mystery. Phew. And we haven't even started the mystery yet.

The Bob-Whites are in New York City for a few days to show their friends Ned, Bob, and Barbara around. While waiting for their friends' flight to arrive from Iowa, Trixie notices a strange Mexican woman who can't find her flight. After Trixie helps her, the woman gives Trixie a purse with a fortune inside.

A couple hours later, Trixie spies an idol so ugly it's cute, and she just has to buy it. But almost immediately, some thugs are following the teens around. Are they after the idol? Why? Can Trixie use the prophecy to solve the case before more danger strikes?

When I first read these books, I read them in whatever order I could get them. I don't remember where this one fell in the sequence, but it was well after I knew the characters. And I'm glad. In case you missed it, there are 10 main characters plus the chaperon. That's a lot of people to keep straight if you don't know them. Since I already knew them all, it was no problem. In fact, I was glad to see so many characters. Why? Because it seems like one of more of the Bob-Whites gets sidelined in each book. It was great to see all seven of them here. And I loved Ned, Bob, and Barbara during their first visit, so it was nice to see them again.

But here's the thing, there may be lots of characters, but the author does a good job of juggling them. All of them get a few scenes to really stand out. It helps that the author did a good job of capturing their unique personalities. This is one of those books that still make the Bob-Whites seem real to me.

Then there's the story. As a true mystery, it's a tad weak. But this is an exciting adventure in every sense of the word. And there are plenty of questions for Trixie to answer of the course of the book. It's strong, and always pulls me in from start to finish.

And the book is well written. It is aimed at 8-12 year olds, and they'll have no problem with it. Granted, it's not anything fancy, but it will entertain.

So what's my problem with the book? I don't believe in fortune tellers, and the prophecy that they fortune teller gives Trixie at the beginning is accurate 100% of the time. When I read the book, I do my best to ignore that aspect of the story, which isn't easy since it's an important part of the story. Many fans of the series count this among their favorites for the very reason I hate it, so I'm in the minority on this one.

Despite my reservation, I do recommend The Mystery of the Blinking Eye. I just recommend that you wait to read it until you've read some of the others. Otherwise, you'll spend so much time trying to keep the characters straight you'll miss the fun of the book.

2 comments:

  1. This wasn't one of my favourite Trixie Belden books. The random prophecy was SO unneeded! Trixie always sticks her nose into things, but this time she made several unwise decisions (especially towards the end-i don't want to give it away)

    I'm glad that she realised that her choice was most unwise (i hate kids mysteries where the hero does really stupid and risky things with no consequences) But even though she felt guilty, i disagree with Jim who said that she's been punished enough. Well, i'm sure "Moms" and Dad will have something to say when she gets back.

    Honestly though, the whole group did some unwise things earlier on. They knew that villians were chasing them, and said that they all needed to stick together (there were 10 of the kids). All well and good, but they KEPT SPLITTING UP!!! That made no sense!

    Also, the villians were only scary towards the end, even Mart said that they seemed kind of cartoony in the beginning. I mean, i know Jim lived on his own for awhile and is the strongest Bob-White, but it is hard to feel a real sense of threat when a 15-year old boy *(Jim) can KO one of the dastardly crooks! Just not believable to me

    The plot seemed kind of like a collection of short story adventures (chases) rather than a cohesive whole. Agatha Cristie tried that with "The Big Four", and many feel it is her worst book. This one won't win any prizes either.

    But on the other hand, to me a bad Trixie Belden book is better than the recycled, formulaic storylines in the Hardy Boys books, so i still think buying it is money well spent

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    1. Thank you! It is so refreshing to finally find someone else who agrees the prophecy was a needless and pointless (both!) addition to this book. I think without that, I would have liked it so much more.

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