22 July 2015

Review: Arsenic for Tea - Robin Stevens

Schoolgirl detectives Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong are at Daisy's home, Fallingford, for the holidays. Daisy's glamorous mother is throwing a tea party for Daisy's birthday, and the whole family is invited, from eccentric Aunt Saskia to dashing Uncle Felix. But it soon becomes clear that this party isn't really about Daisy at all. Naturally, Daisy is furious.

Then one of their party falls seriously, mysteriously ill—and everything points to poison.

With wild storms preventing anyone from leaving, or the police from arriving, Fallingford suddenly feels like a very dangerous place to be. Not a single person present is what they seem—and everyone has a secret or two. And when someone very close to Daisy looks suspicious, the Detective Society must do everything they can to reveal the truth... no matter the consequences.

This is the second book, so there are a lot of references to the first one that were entirely lost on me, having not read the first one. However, I feel that you don't really need to read that one. These are really stand-alone books, and I like that fact as you don't need to keep remembering things that happened previously.

Just could not get into it for the first half! I found the girls a bit annoying, and didn't like the fact that they were posh and rich at all, as it made it impossible for me to connect with them on a personal level.

As it is for people at quite a young reading level, I can understand why the characters act as they do, especially the girls, who are a little bit ridiculous at times. Thankfully, the actual plot of the story was really good. The mystery and the clues were interesting, though I did find some of the reasoning for absolving a few characters from the crime quite flimsy at times.

I really commend the writer for using words that younger readers would definitely not know, and including a glossary at the back so that they learn a few things.

It was quite impossible to know exactly who the culprit was, since we never had the full reasoning behind the murder until the very end, but I did have a feeling, perhaps because the book appeared to lead you away from certain characters and absolve them of guilt a little bit too quickly and flimsily. I had pretty much figured it out a few chapters before the girls did, but had entirely no idea how they did it. That part was actually very clever, and I again commend them for that.

I also like the way that these girls are really smart. There was no glaringly obvious point that they were missing, and there wasn't anything that they just didn't take into account. That was great, but I did wish that the reasoning and the ideas were a bit more complex. Of course, that would have made for a longer book, and possibly one that wouldn't fit for the age range the book has been written for, so it is really a personal preference on my part.

Historically, I liked some of the detail that went into this, such as the bun breaks and the servants, but there wasn't too much of that.

Arsenic For Tea on Goodreads