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- author Jackie French

Friday 3 November 2023

Review: Solve Your Own Mystery: The Transylvanian Express

Solve Your Own Mystery: The Transylvanian Express is one of four titles in the series, and is a bit like the Choose Your Own Adventure books that were popular in the 1980s.

The idea is to start reading, and at certain points you're asked a question. Your choice of the available responses will direct what happens next. That means there are lots of permutations for the plot, so you can read and re-read the book and get variations on the story each time.

In The Transylvanian Express, as the central character (who has magic powers!), you work with a yeti detective named Klaus. 

Following the delivery of a mysterious letter, you and Klaus are aboard a train travelling to the home of Count Fledermaus, a vampire whose castle will be opened for an annual public event.

The trouble is that a VIP, Night Mayor Franklefink, has gone missing while on the train, and one of the suspects is his arch nemesis, Bramwell Stoker.

The story is written so the narrative speaks directly to the reader. This makes it feel like you are right in the middle of everything that happens. When your help is sought to find the missing VIP, your first decision must be whether to explore the last place he was seen, which was the dining carriage, or to examine his cabin. 

The Transylvanian Express sometimes seem like a kind of mash-up of Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express, and the world of Harry Potter. Illustrations are scattered liberally throughout.

As you progress through the story, and try to solve the mystery of the Night Mayor's disappearance, you'll find yourself trekking all over the train, looking in its nooks and crannies, and speaking to the eclectic bunch of passengers. Will you be able to work out what happened?

The Solve Your Own Mystery series, including The Transylvanian Express,  has been created by author Gareth P Jones, and is illustrated by Louise Forshaw. It's packed with a cast of kooky characters (think goblins, monsters, and werewolves and you'll get the idea), and has a touch of magic. Be prepared for anything when you start reading!

Title: Solve Your Own Mystery: The Transylvanian Express
Author: Gareth P Jones
Illustrator: Louise Forshaw
Publisher: Walker Books Australia, $ 16.99
Publication Date: October 2023
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9781760656591
For ages: 8+
Type: Junior Fiction