Miss Penny Dreadful and the Mermaid’s Locks
Walker Books, 2023
160pp., pbk., RRP $A15.99
1872 and although Penny Pickering has often dreamed of being taken away from Miss Strickland’s School for Girls of an Enquiring Mind by her Aunt Harriet who writes very popular short stories known as “penny dreadfuls” (hence the nickname other girls in the school have given Penny), she is most surprised when it actually happens and she finds herself embroiled in curious mysteries which, with her enquiring mind guided by the echoes of Miss Strickland’s words, she is able to solve.
But this time, in the final episode in the series, instead of being focused on bewitched kittens, malicious mazes or even her aunt’s new obsession of the appearance of a mermaid in the Thames, Penny is determined to use her logical mind to discover the whereabouts of her missing parents. She has deduced that their departure was not planned; that they had disagreed with Aunt Harriet about her signing a new contract with the suspicious Mr Cowley and a planned publicity trip to the USA; that the postcards she has received are dodgy; that Mr Featherstonehaugh (pronounced Fanshaw) is not the solicitor he purports to be and the weasel-like man she has seen with Cowley has something to do with the disappearance. But what is the connection between these things, how can she uncover it and will she do it in time before the new contract is signed?
Young, independent readers who like mysteries, particularly those set in times past, will thoroughly enjoy this short series as they put themselves in Penny’ place and try to solve the mystery before she does.