Blurb: The Birthday Curse is set outside the town limits of Dillwood, in a strange old house called the Manor, with a detective who is bold, brassy and only thirteen. Her name is Penelope Amour.
Her parents invite family and friends to the Manor to celebrate Penelope’s birthday, assembling an odd mix of characters that includes fortune tellers, hoodlums, crazy relatives and a real life drama queen. Complications soon arise when a snowstorm knocks out the power, stranding them in the country, fourteen miles from town. On the morning of Penelope’s birthday, they find one of the guests dead. Another guest spins a tale of a triple curse, claiming that two more will die in the next two days. While the adults bumble along trying to find the killer, Penelope enlists the help of friends Ruthie, Wendell and Orson to find the murderer.
The Birthday Curse is a blend of humor, cozy mystery and suspense that is a fun read for adults as well as tweens.
Review: For Penelope Armour and, indeed, one of her guests, it’s going to be a birthday to remember. Sadly, it won’t be in a good way. As the blurb suggests, the birthday brings together an array of guests with the purpose of celebrating Penelope’s birthday but it all goes a bit awry.
Penelope has to face the bumbling ineptitude of the adults around her as she proves herself to be a far more logical thinker than any of her grown up relatives. She takes it upon herself to find the murderer and follow the clues in a sensible direction, despite constant distractions from those around her.
As Penelope is a relatively young heroine you would perhaps expect this book to be a little childish in its execution. Not so! In fact, Penelope is a mature, spunky character – it’s easy to forget that she’s actually a child. Accordingly, it’s easy to enjoy this book as an adult and simply be swept along by the mix of mystery and humour; however, I can certainly appreciate that this would be a very fun read for a younger audience too.
Despite a dark subject matter, this is a light-hearted and fun read that put me in mind of The Pineville Heist and was certainly as good. This was a quick two sitting read, perfect for chilly winter afternoons. Voigts spins a good yarn – the novel is quite short but the length of the story is perfectly reasonable. It doesn’t drag on but nor is it abrupt: instead, it fits quite comfortably in its 186 pages and still delivers a charming tale.
This is the first in the Penelope Mysteries, with subsequent titles Penelope and the Ghost’s Treasure and Penelope and the Christmas Spirit also available.