Gracie Fairshaw and the Mysterious Guest by Susan Brownrigg
Published By: UCLan Publishing
Released: 2nd July 2020
I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
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Strange things are afoot at The Majestic… Check yourself in for a mystery beside the seaside.
Gracie Fairshaw and her family have barely moved into The Majestic, a Blackpool boarding house, when her Ma mysteriously vanishes.
Gracie teams up with her younger brother George, siblings Violet and Tom, and maid Phyllis. They must work out why one of the guests – a conman conjurer – has made Ma disappear. Can they get her safely home as the clock ticks down to the 1935 Illuminations Switch-on?
I love a Middle Grade mystery, so when I found out about Gracie Fairshaw and the Mysterious Guest, I knew I had to read it! I was very much looking forward to reading this and finding out about Gracie and the mysterious guest, and well, as you will find out I was pleasantly surprised by it.
Gracie Fairshaw and her Ma, and little brother George have moved into The Majestic, a boarding house in Blackpool. They’ve hardly had time to unpack when Ma mysteriously disappears. It’s up to Gracie, along with George, siblings Violet and Tom and maid, Phyllis to solve the mystery and find Ma before the 1935 Blackpool Illuminations Switch-On.
This was such an exciting read that reminded me of The Famous Five and Nancy Drew books which I devoured when I was in Primary School. From the moment I started reading, I was thrust into Gracie’s world and if I’m being honest, there were moments where I didn’t want to put the book down. Plot-wise, it is paced well and you are given little twists and turns throughout, and nothing is as it seems. You do feel like you are solving the mystery alongside Gracie, George, Violet, Tom and Phyllis, but if I’m being totally honest I don’t think my detective skills are as good as theirs! I would love to see more books written where they try to solve more mysteries!
The setting of Blackpool in the 1930s was incredible, and as someone who has been to Blackpool a few times, it did bring back some of those precious memories. I particularly liked the scenes in the Pleasure Beach, as when I went I loved it, and it’s made me want to visit again. Also, having the story set in 1935 made me realise how different Blackpool, and any other seaside town was back then, and I did find it fascinating. A lot of research must have been done to make the plot and setting as accurate as possible, so I do commend Brownrigg for this. Without the right research, the story wouldn’t have been portrayed as minutely, and wouldn’t have had the same feel.
The disability rep in this book was also great! Gracie was born with part of her arm missing, and although she does get stared at and slightly discriminated against, she ultimately doesn’t let it stand in her way. She is a strong-willed character with lots of determination and Gracie goes to show that you shouldn’t let anything get in the way of what you want to achieve. We need more representation like this in middle grade, and I am in admiration of Brownrigg for creating a character like Gracie, for children with disabilities to look up too.
Gracie Fairshaw and the Mysterious Guest was an epic, exhilarating, delightful read that I couldn’t get enough of. Everything from the plot to the setting to the amusing characters had me wanting to read more and I do hope we get to see more of these characters and their adventures in the future.