Mystery at Dead Man’s Ridge- Mandy Edwards


This is a very exciting story that in my non-expert view is suitable for children of eight and upwards. I’m trying to think back over 40 years to the books I was reading at that age. They were Enid Blyton’s Famous Five and later, Anthony Buckeridge’s Jennings and Captain W. E. John’s Biggles books. Edwards covers some adult topics in a very young person friendly and modern way; whilst in quality and plot style following very much in the footsteps of the best 1940’s- 1960’s children’s authors.
The scene is set in rural Otago in New Zealand, with a full array of the elements that life there entails. The landscapes and the farming life of backblock NZ feels very real, and the young townies introduction to rural life hits the tin roof panel nail right on the head. Edwards brings into this environment many of the issues that face any growing child; shifting friendships, adult frailties, substance abuse, abandonment, physical abuse, the nuclear family and the common absence of one, I could go on. Issues are tackled in a realistically matter-of-fact way, through the “eyes” of the young characters.
I very much enjoyed this, in many ways, “gritty” story, and have confidence that you and yours will as well. This book is also well balanced in terms of gender aspirations, which is something that children’s books weren’t always in my young days. In other words, Edwards reflects well the expectations of the now in which we live. I have little idea what the young read today other than about teenage vampires and Hogwarts, but I would be shocked if this book got a less than favourable response from its target age group. I couldn’t possibly give this book less than five stars.


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