The Five Things by Beth Merwood

The Five Things by Beth Merwood
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Mystery/Suspense/Thriller, Paranormal, Historical, Contemporary
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

For nine-year-old Wendy, the summer of 1969 will never be forgotten.

Local kids have always told stories about the eerie wood on the outskirts of the village, and Wendy knows for sure that some of them are true. Now the school holidays have started and she’s going to the wood again with Anna and Sam, but they soon become convinced that someone is trying to frighten them off.

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Some mysteries can’t be solved in a single summer.

Some of the most interesting portions of this book involved the lingo of British English in the late 1960s. The main character used these terms under the assumption that everyone reading it already knew what she was talking about. I enjoyed the process of looking up the words I didn’t know and comparing them to how I’d refer to those items or types of food in my dialect of English. It was also fascinating to see how the main character’s voice changed as she grew older and certain words came into or fell out of style.

The plot was slowly and sometimes unevenly paced. As much as I appreciated all of the details the author included in order to immerse her audience in this time and place, those passages were sometimes distracting from the mystery storyline because of how much they slowed down key moments in Wendy’s exploration of what really happened on that sad day that she was never able to forget. I would have loved to choose a higher rating, but this held me back from doing so.

With that being said, the mystery itself felt incredibly realistic. The clues spilled out across many years. Sometimes Wendy reached an entirely new stage of life before she discovered the next one. Given the tragedy that occurred soon after the audience first met her, this made perfect sense. She was so young when it happened that I wasn’t surprised by how protective the adults in her community were of what they said around the children in their lives one bit. Of course she wouldn’t have picked up on certain things until she was an adult!

The Five Things is a good pick for anyone who like slow-burning mysteries.


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