Sunday, February 18, 2018

Book Review: The Haunted Lighthouse by Penny Warner (Code Busters Club #2)

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Fun mystery filled with history and codes
Cons: Characters are thin
The Bottom Line:
Alcatraz treasure?
Code Busters are on the case
Lots of fun for kids

The Code Busters Hunt for Treasure

I can remember as a kid being hooked on codes, and trying to use them to communicate with my friends.  That’s why the idea behind the Code Busters series is so smart.  Heck, even as an adult, I love the idea of using codes to communicate.  So I was glad to rejoin these kids in The Haunted Lighthouse.

Cody and the rest of the Code Busters are excited for the next school day because their classes are going on a combined field trip to Alcatraz.  The night before they leave, Cody gets a strange e-mail message.  Then the four friends get part of a note on their front door step in the morning.  It seems to imply that there might be a treasure on the island.  Can they figure out what is going on while on the field trip?

Now you might be wondering exactly how this plot ties into the title of the book.  I will say that there is a lighthouse, and there is some discussion about a few places being haunted.  However, if you are looking for a typical ghostly middle grade mystery, you will be disappointed.

However, that’s not a reason to skip this book.  I was actually impressed with how things unfolded as the book went along.  There were some twists I didn’t see coming, and I had fun along the way.

The characters are a bit on the simple side, but that’s the nature of the book.  We are dealing with a 180-page middle grade novel, after all, and there isn’t time to give us more complex characters.  I know as a kid I certainly didn’t mind, and I’m sure today’s kids won’t mind either.

And the codes!  We are introduced to several I’d never heard of here as well as several I expected.  As the characters encounter the codes, they discuss how to solve them, so we can learn about the codes and solve the puzzles presented as well.  Plus, there is more information on the codes in the back of the book as well as the solutions so you can check your work.

I must admit, even though I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, I have never been to Alcatraz.  The bits of the history interjected here were fascinating to me, and they didn’t slow the story down at all.  I bet kids will love learning about it as well.

Even though the title is a little misleading, there is much to love about The Haunted Lighthouse.  Just watch for an increase in codes after your kids read the book.

This review is part of this week's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday.


  1. What a neat series! I've never actually read any books about codes, so I have to try this series! Thanks so much for the recommendation!

  2. Great sounding series. I'll be looking for it as kids and some of us bigger kids enjoy books like this.

  3. I also grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. I did go to Alcatraz for a tour as an adult. Not a place I'd ever want to visit again. Musty, dark, damp, rusty, creepy--yikes! This book sounds fun. Thanks for your post.

  4. What an interesting series. I've always enjoyed books and movies about code breaking. This sounds fun for youth! Thanks for the recommendation!


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