'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Wednesday 29 March 2023

Review: The Riddle of Tanglewood Manor

Mystery. Ghosts. Time travel. The Riddle of Tanglewood Manor really does have it all.

Sam and Harry move with their parents from the city to a remote, dilapidated manor during the COVID-19 pandemic. The boys explore the labyrinth-like house. They find spooky portraits of long-dead people and secret rooms. 

In the dust-coated library, they discover a book in which a riddle appears and transports them back in time to 1919.

With chapter names like ‘The Horror’, ‘The Manor Attack’ and ‘Disappearing Doors’, Tracey Hawkins has created intrigue. The writing propels readers into each new scene. 

Hawkins has created a realistic brother relationship layered with both camaraderie and power shifts. 

Hawkins has cleverly sparked children’s natural curiosity by using a series of riddles to test the characters and to direct them around the manor. Modern life conflicts with life in the past, creating some funny moments, like the boys finding out what a long drop toilet is. 

Personally, I’m enchanted with what happened in the past, and The Riddle of Tanglewood Manor effectively vivifies Australian family life in 1919. The book explores how World War 1 and the Spanish Flu affected families. This makes for very interesting discussion when comparing those events with the COVID-19 pandemic. There are comprehensive Teaching notes that touch on these ideas and many more, and I will definitely be using them in my classroom.

As for my kids’ opinions of the book, my nine-year-old son and ten-year-old daughter loved The Riddle of Tanglewood Manor. My daughter wasn’t drawn to the cover but once she was reading, quickly became engrossed in the story.

The Riddle of Tanglewood Manor is book one in an anticipated three book series. I can’t wait to be transported again. 

Other books by the award-winning author include, ‘Nancy Bentley’, ‘Max Meets a Monster’ and ‘Leaping Lola’.

Title: The Riddle of Tanglewood Manor
Author: Tracey Hawkins
Publisher: Storytorch Press, $16.95
Publication Date: 1 February 2022
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9780645191523
For ages: 7+
Type: Middle Grade Fiction