I received an eARC from the publishers through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. It has not affected my opinions.
Genre: Mystery Age Range: MG Star Rating: 3 stars Series: anthology
A wintery middle grade mystery collection of short stories by thirteen of the most exciting and diverse authors in children’s books today!
Sleuthing through the snow, on a merry mysterious day, in disguise we go, investigating all the way . . .
Join them as part of the Very Merry Murder Club as they lead you on a snow-covered wintery journey of Christmassy crimes, festive foul play and murderously magnificent mysteries!
Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.
I was quite looking forward to reading this anthology, but I think an expectation mismatch meant that it ended up being quite disappointing overall. From the title, I was expecting 13 murder mysteries, which is what I wanted. However, I didn’t even get 13 mysteries. Instead I got maybe 9 mysteries (and 4 murders) and some adventures that didn’t even have a mystery with a crime to solve at the heart (but had riddles or just strange events instead.) Maybe a different title and a better description of the stories would have helped.
Mysteries are hard to write, more so in the incredibly short word count of an anthology, so all the stories do an impressive job of fitting in clues, crimes, deductions, and also character building. And to fit in complex side characters with layered histories in only a few thousand words?!
Also, this anthology is a wonderfully diverse one, which authors and characters from all backgrounds. As well as characters from a variety of ethnicities, there are also children in care, from single-parent households, and an autistic character too. While most stories are contemporary, there is one in a fantasy world, and a few on the edge of this world and potentially another.
My favourite story was certainly the first – a proper murder mystery with clues and a crime to solve. Plus the lead was autistic and that helped her as she noticed things other didn’t. Plus the wintry setting was key to the mystery being solved – a very confusing clue. Not to mention ballet feels very Christmassy too! It certainly set my expectations high (which might not have helped as it took a long time to get to the next murder.)
There were a few other murders, and I also enjoyed them a lot. There’s a scrabble game that precedes the murder, a cold case that no one knows about, and skiing trip gone wrong. Of course, there’s little time to set up multiple suspects and red herrings, but the “whodunnit reveals” at the end were very satisfying.
It’s an anthology with an impressive roster of authors. To read my reviews of their other books, where aplicable, click their name to be taken to the relevant book index page.
- Abiola Bello
- Annabelle Sami
- Benjamin Dean
- E. L. Norry
- Elle McNicoll
- Robin Stevens
- Joanna Williams
- Maisie Chan
- Nizrana Farook
- Patrice Lawrence
- Roopa Farooki
- Serena Patel
- Sharna Jackson
- Dominique Valente