Sunday, November 20, 2011

Review: The Beast of Blackslope - Tracy Barrett

The Beast of Blackslope by Tracy Barrett
Series: The Sherlock Files #2
Genre: Middle Grade, mystery, Sherlockian fiction
Published on May 12, 2009
Published by Henry Holt and Co.
Pages: 176
Read From: 11.5.11. - 11.6.11

Xena and Xander Holmes have been looking forward to their vacation in the peaceful country village of Blackslope. But when a huge monster begins to terrorize the town, the young detectives are faced with a mystery that seems impossible to solve. 
Sherlock Holmes, Xena and Xander's famous ancestor, investigated the case of a horrible beast in Blackslope, but that was nearly a hundred years ago. It couldn't be the same creature after all this time - or could it?


This installment was certainly more exciting than its predecessor - a story involving scary creatures on midnight moors and family curses always is, compared to finding a long-lost painting. And Tracy Barrett manages to excite goosebumps on her Readers' arms when she describes the Beast's eerie howling. When characters venture out at night, the Reader automatically feels chilled and silently (or loudly, if you're like me) wills the character to return to the safety of the house! It reminded me of the scary parts in the Nancy Drew PC games where you're walking up to the haunted mansion and its dark and rainy, and of course you're playing the game at night with all the lights off, and then something scary pops up on screen and you nearly jump out of you seat. You at least get the chills and feel pleased at being a little scared.

This fun spooky feeling makes up for the areas where the book fell short. The explanation for the mysterious occurrences around Blackslope - both when Sherlock tried to solve it, and when Xander and Xena are solving it - are not surprising, but disappointing and a little lame. And it's mostly because there is, once again, no villains. I hope, hope, hope that at least one villain will make an appearance in Book Three, because if this series continues without any bad-doers, it's going to quickly spiral down to the sorts of mysteries I hated reading when I was little, because what's a good mystery without a bad guy?

Nevertheless, The Beast of Blackslope was a good installment, and pleasant, and I give it a thumbs up. 

Others in The Sherlock Files:
1)The 100-Year-Old Secret
2)The Beast of Blackslope
3)The Case That Time Forgot
4)The Missing Heir

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