Today, we continue celebrating the holidays with America’s most famous girl detective with a book simply titled A Nancy Drew Christmas. This book is part of the Nancy Drew Diaries series and from what I understand on the Nancy Drew Wiki, the reception from longtime fans was a bit mixed in the characterization of Nancy.
…the Diaries has received harsh reviews from fans. Much criticism has gone towards Nancy becoming more passive or timid, and Nancy’s reluctance to solve a mystery in several stories. There has also been criticism in the uneven quality of the series.
Now I’ve really only read two Nancy Drew books (well…l read one and listened to another) before this one and the last was a tie-in to the CW show which presented Nancy as strong and suspicious whereas here at the beginning, Nancy comes off as a bit mousy.
I did listen to an audiobook version of this book and that is how Nancy came off, which is not what I would’ve expected from Nancy.
Going into this book, I didn’t know much of what to expect but it is actually quite good. The main gist of what happens is that Carson Drew surprises Nancy with a trip to a New England ski resort. This is because the owner of the Ski resort got some help from the Drew’s on a previous case. Now another big angle is that it is very green. What do I mean by this? Well, the ski resort is environmentally friendly and there are times when it does feel like the book is hitting you over the head with that but considering that this is a kid’s book, I am okay with that.
One of the more clever elements is how the villains take Nancy out early as Nancy does end up hurting herself on a ski slope and because one of the villains is a doctor, he places Nancy in a wheelchair thinking that would stop her from getting around but doesn’t deter the girl detective. The book also does a good job of laying out who the suspects could be and it is an actual surprise when you find out who the main villain is. What’s the motivation for the villains? Well, that depends on which set you are talking about? One wants gold and another is just trying to illegally profit off the ski resort while going behind the back of his business partner. Oh, another interesting fact is that this book is also a Nancy Drew/Hardy Boys or well a Nancy Drew and Joe Hardy crossover.
The book constantly teases The Hardy Boys and yeah, I spoiled myself on their appearance. So, that was annoying as I kept waiting for them to show up. However, Frank is taken out of the picture rather early first being arrested by a shady sheriff and then being banned from the ski resort premises. I did find this a little disappointing because I’m sorry but the pairing is Frank and Nancy. Not Joe and Nancy.
This had less the shipping fuel that is so often felt in Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys crossovers and more like a big sister and little brother vibe. It worked but Frank’s presence was sorely missed. I tried to look up the ages of the characters in their respective current series and couldn’t find anything. Nancy came off like a fifteen to sixteen-year-old whereas Joe felt like a brash thirteen-year-old. The former part of that sentence does fit Joe’s character. And I did enjoy it but knowing that this could’ve been a true Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys crossover and instead it was just Nancy Drew and a Hardy Boy is rather disappointing.
It’s interesting to see how the library description says that Nancy takes cues from Kevin McCallister in how she goes about capturing the bad guys. Not because it isn’t true but rather because it’s not something I would have thought of. It works and this mostly comes into place during the final few chapters as Nancy trapped in her wheelchair has set some traps up in her suite as the villains come to get here.
In all this is a great book that does a good job of balancing the Christmas spirit and giving an interesting mystery as you are trying to find out if the gold is real and why someone(s) would to go to great lengths to hurt Nancy and other guests including using extremely hot peppers as a form of poison. Perhaps listening to an audiobook version worked more to help set the holiday spirit than just reading the book. As the narrator did a good job in making the mystery feel festive if that makes any sense.
My Final Thoughts
I greatly enjoyed this book. It did a good job of taking advantage of the snowy setting to deliver an interesting mystery. While also presenting an obstacle for Nancy but as I pointed out that didn’t deter her but rather she sowed how she could work around it. This is a great book that I would recommend for any young readers out there that hope to be introduced to the world of Nancy Drew.