As I mentioned last time,  I’d be looking at another series featuring an eight-year-old Nancy Drew.   The Clue Book series would replace Clue Crew in 2015 with the last Clue Crew book coming out in March of that year and the first Clue Book coming out in July of the same year. What I did find interesting is that Nancy, Bess, and George still refer to themselves as the Clue Crew in this book. It makes me think this was a soft reboot of the Clue Crew series.   In some ways, I was hoping this would be a sequel series aging up the characters considering that Clue Crew also had a Halloween book.




On the one hand,  I get it when it comes to stories about kid characters,  they are rarely aged up and this book was released in 2015 and The Halloween Hoax that I looked at last time was released in 2007.  An eight-year difference between the two books.  Not knocking it but that is just something I’ve observed and on the one hand, it makes sense as these two books now have different audiences.




I do like the cover with Nancy, Bess, and George dressed up as The Witch Sisters standing over a cauldron and it is plot-relevant as they are auditioning for a Halloween episode of an America’s Got Talent-like show called Twinkling Little Stars and they are doing an act as witches.  Also, I think it’s cute that each cover in this series looks like a notebook as Nance uses a notebook to write down her clues and list of suspects and the books try to be interactive with the kids reading it by suggesting before the last chapter, they grab a piece of paper and do the same.


Having said all this, there are two issues I have and one is an issue with Nancy Drew as a franchise as a whole.  In the original books, Bess was described as a bigger girl and very few adaptions and modern takes have embraced this and have trimmed her down over time and that is seen here as well with this version of Bess.  It hit me when seeing the girls go through a haunted house but it is evident on the cover when looking at the blonde little girl that is Bess.



I don’t know it just seems rather weird that for so long this aspect of Bess has been ignored.  Yes,  the original books at the time would use her weight and appetite as a joke regarding her character but there is still a way to present the Bess of today while paying tribute to the Bess that was in the original books.  Also, newer versions of Bess are described as being girly compared to the tomboyish nature of her cousin Geroge.   And I’m sorry but I feel as though this is saying big girls can’t be girly and that is something I take issue with as well.


The other issue I have with the cover is a bit harder to explain but I will attempt to do so.  I understand that this is a kid’s book, and I knew that going in yet I can’t help but feel that the cover feels very safe in the color palette it chose. Again, on the one hand, I get it as I said but with how bright the cover is, I feel it diminishes what is supposed to be viewed as the threat to the three girls but even looking at the Clue Crew Halloween book’s cover, there was a sense of fear and concern for the girls




This cover does a good job of balancing the cute of the three girls while showing they are in what they perceive to be a dangerous situation.  Here though, the new cover shifts too much to focus on the cute aspect with them just running away from the cauldron as it boils over. I think there is a way to find a balance that strikes the right chord but this one didn’t do it.



The Plot


As mentioned, the kids of River Heights are excited to be auditioning for a Halloween episode of their favorite talent show.  We are introduced to the judges and they’ll serve as the suspects for most of the book.



They are a comedian who grew up in River Heights and pulled a lot of pranks when she went to River Heights Elementary, the owner of the theater where the auditions are being held, and a popular child star.  The theater is key in this as someone is sabotaging the auditions of the kids taking part in the talent show.  There is a superstitious belief by some at the theater that it is the work of an old witch haunting the theater that once worked there.



I find this rather interesting coming from The CW show which did dabble in the supernatural and one of the main antagonists was a witch named Temperance Hudson who was an ancestor of that show’s Nancy.



Oh and not to mention that Bess is scared of monsters and ghosts and the girls come up with these intentions called Ghost Goggles which are just Halloween arts and crafts projects.



I will say the girls do good detective work in sussing out the suspect and we even get to see George looking at evidence that’ll take them towards the culprit looking at a receipt from a prank store that helps them rule out the ghost theory.




I do appreciate the other girls getting a chance to shine in solving the mystery.  As I said though,  the witch belief is big in River Heights and we learn that the Drew’s housemaid, Hannah also had heard of Nora and seems to believe in her as well.




Weird tangent but it is so weird to me that Nancy is a little kid in this book yet Hannah still looks like an older woman, I think this is one time where the Aunt May treatment of de-aging the character would’ve been fine.  I’m not going to reveal the culprit but the motivation is born out of frustration with their profession and the prank store does play a part in it.  In the end, it’s cute to see Nancy and her two besties enjoy each other’s company after solving the mystery.





This was cute.



My Final Thoughts


This is another decent book for the youngest Nancy Drew fan even if I do think at times, it felt a bit hand-holdy with the need to guide the reader to reveal of who the culprit was.  It’s not bad and it’s great for it’s targeted audience but that is one ding I have against it.  Still, it’s cute and pretty fun.  Join me next time as we look at a book from the Nancy Drew Diaries series as I look at The Ghost of Grey Fox Inn



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