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The Famous Five #15

Five on a Secret Trail

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The Famous Five are camping near an old ruined cottage - but is the cottage really abandoned? Anne hears strange noises at night - but the others don't believe her! Then they see the ghostly lights ...

143 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1956

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About the author

Enid Blyton

5,905 books5,668 followers
See also:
Ένιντ Μπλάιτον (Greek)
Enida Blaitona (Latvian)
Энид Блайтон (Russian)
Inid Blajton (Serbian)
Енід Блайтон (Ukrainian)

Enid Mary Blyton (1897 - 1968) was an English author of children's books.

Born in South London, Blyton was the eldest of three children, and showed an early interest in music and reading. She was educated at St. Christopher's School, Beckenham, and - having decided not to pursue her music - at Ipswich High School, where she trained as a kindergarten teacher. She taught for five years before her 1924 marriage to editor Hugh Pollock, with whom she had two daughters. This marriage ended in divorce, and Blyton remarried in 1943, to surgeon Kenneth Fraser Darrell Waters. She died in 1968, one year after her second husband.

Blyton was a prolific author of children's books, who penned an estimated 800 books over about 40 years. Her stories were often either children's adventure and mystery stories, or fantasies involving magic. Notable series include: The Famous Five, The Secret Seven, The Five Find-Outers, Noddy, The Wishing Chair, Mallory Towers, and St. Clare's.

According to the Index Translationum, Blyton was the fifth most popular author in the world in 2007, coming after Lenin but ahead of Shakespeare.

See also her pen name Mary Pollock

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5 stars
2,831 (34%)
4 stars
2,814 (34%)
3 stars
2,127 (26%)
2 stars
316 (3%)
1 star
58 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 163 reviews
Profile Image for Luffy (Oda's Version).
765 reviews761 followers
January 9, 2018
The quality of Enid Blyton's work dips sharply at about the time this book was published. Someone - someone with fearless endeavor - must have felt it his duty to tell her to man up. Hence her last creative bursts of imagination, with Five on Finniston Farm sealing a remarkable life.

I must get to Enid Blyton's biography by Barbara Stoney, these days. She is a fascinating figure. I owe a lot of my anglo-centric literary aptitude to her. As for the book itself, it's very much as if it has never visited the editor's workshop.

This book is quite like a parody of all things unlikely. The problem here is that the twists of this 'adventure' are pretty much lame. They get solved too easily, yet by their very nature, they ought to be difficult. Suspension of disbelief can only go so far. Enid Blyton's ghostwriters must be spinning in their grave. Ha.
Profile Image for Paul.
2,309 reviews20 followers
July 8, 2019
The best part about reading this book was that I was reading my mum's old hardback copy from when she was a child. Sure, the dust cover was disintegrating and it had that old book smell (which I think I'm probably alone in the GR community for disliking; most of you seem to have orgasms over it) but it was still a blast to be reading a book at forty that my mum read at twelve.

Anyway, what about the story? Well, it was OK. Pretty much what I've come to expect from this series. It even had a slightly science fiction element to it as the kids see some UFOs at one point and you KNOW how much I love science fiction. (Or possibly you don't. It doesn't really matter.)

Why only three stars, then? Well, it's because the Famous Five have NEVER been as stupid as they are in this book! It annoyed me quite a bit. If you want to know how they were stupid, click the spoiler below:

The fact that Blyton thinks her readers would be as stupid as the Five and not immediately work it out is insulting. Yes, even for a child. You could chalk it up to this being a kids' book but nowhere in the previous fourteen books in this series are the Five this stupid. They're usually pretty quick on the uptake. Here's hoping they're back on form in the next book.

Buddy read with Sunshine Seaspray... and BOY did it takes us forever...
Profile Image for Sophie Crane.
3,923 reviews122 followers
July 29, 2021
Timmy hurts his ear and wears a cardboard collar but everyone laughs at him. George decides to go camping. A few days later Anne joins her while the boys come another few days later. They stay in an old cottage but discover some people are searching for blueprints yet in the wrong place. Eventually the Famous Five get into the secret way along with some new friends. After a long hunt the 5 gong an old case which appears to be empty however at last the inspector manages to get them and Uncle Quentin says that there is only 2 ever printed!!! The bad guys are captured by the police.
I liked this book because I think it is very exciting and it is written by Enid Blyton who is one of my favourite authors. I'd recommend this book to any Enid Blyton fan and pretty much anyone else who just likes reading. I chose 5 stars because this is an Enid Blyton book and they are the best!!!
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for *Tau*.
258 reviews25 followers
October 16, 2022
As a kid I absolutely adored the adventures of The Famous Five by Enid Blyton and I've reread the entire collection of 21 books several times.
A few years ago I reread the first few books and was disappointed. Thus I gave 2* to the first installments.

Now I started to read the rest of them.
Have I become even harsher in my ratings?
Probably, because - despite my love for these books as a kid - I can't bring myself to give more than 1*.

A few of my biggest gripes:

What an utterly sexist nonsense
Annie does nothing else than 'playing mother/housekeeper': cooking, doing the dishes, …
Actually Dick and Julian should've switched names, as Julian often really acts like a real dick by being condescending towards girls.
This may be a representation of the zeitgeist, as the first book was published in 1942.
But then again, there exist lots of older books that were more 'modern' in thoughts.

So much eating and sleeping
What are those kids: marmots?
They just finished breakfast and they're already thinking about lunch. Oh, and of course they have to get food for the afternoon tea and for dinner.
It's true that I already heard of the importance of food in children's books. As you can read on this blog: "In Blyton’s books, eating food is the central focal point that brings children together. This in turn ingrains the value of having a bond with family and friends."
Taking into account when the first books about The Famous Five were published, I can understand that World War II and the aftermath were of influence. And thus, that food played a big role in people's lives.
But to me, there's a big difference between mentioning the meals or using them as pure page-filling.
Just out of curiosity I scanned one of the books for mentions of food and sleep and it turned out that they appeared on more than 45% of the pages.
Which brings us to the remaining (approximately) 55%:

Plot holes
In between all the eating and sleeping, our protagonists also solve some 'mysteries' that are either unbelievable or totally clear from the beginning.
There are lots of situations that aren't credible to begin with: young children from 10 years old who go on camping trips all alone, they can buy cigarettes, …
And it doesn't get better as there are definitely many plot holes in the described adventures (they hadn't the bag with food within reach, but still managed to eat without going back to get it; etc.).
Some of the errors could be due to a bad Dutch translation, but not all of them.

Line work
Did you know that Enid Blyton (° 1897 - † 1968) wrote hundreds of books and at some periods even 50 books per year?
762 of them are listed on Wikipedia.
But if you want a more detailed list of all her works (> 1.000) you can take a look at https://www.enidblyton.net/ or https://www.enidblytonsociety.co.uk/list-all.php.
Bearing in mind the amount of written books, it's understandable that they often come across as pure line work with a lot of page-filling content.

The conclusion

If I had children, I wouldn't let them read this crap.
It's true that as an adult, you rate books in another way than you would've as a child.
But there are so many really good children's books out there that definitely deserve more attention than this overrated and outdated series.
And as George Bernard Shaw said: "Make it a rule never to give a child a book you would not read yourself."
Profile Image for Nadja.
1,623 reviews62 followers
October 2, 2018
Besonders der Anfang ist mal was Neues, Mädchenferien bis die Jungs eintrudeln. Ein mysteriöser Junge und mal ein bisschen ein anderes Setting macht diese Folge besonders. [23.09.2018]
Profile Image for Kirsti.
2,456 reviews84 followers
November 18, 2011
Unusually for the five, this story begins with George alone having a minor adventure with Timmy. He gets a cut on his ear, and George, determined to get people to stop laughing at him, packs up and decides to camp out for a few days. Soon she is joined by Anne, who while camping at night, sees unusual lights floating near a wrecked cottage. The next night it rains and the girls are forced to seek shelter there, and are watched by persons unknown. It is only then that the boys show up unexpectedly early from a holiday in France, and the mystery deepens.

I liked that the children soon realized they were being tricked- after all their adventures up to this point they had to realize something like this was possible. I felt they were real dopes over the twins though, and the reader is soon clued in that there are two boys, especially as Jet only seems to hang around one.

Still, a great book in the series, although it was one of the later ones I read as I couldn't find a copy for years. Long live the famous five!
Profile Image for Aljoša.
281 reviews87 followers
May 16, 2019
This was the 15th book in the series. And I can see that Enid Blyton was bored and just wanted to finish the series as quickly as possible, because the plot was pretty bad.
Profile Image for Russell Taylor.
127 reviews15 followers
May 8, 2018
In this episode, George and Anne have the opportunity to step out from behind Julian and Dick's shadow, as the 2 boys don't appear until about page 60. Unfortunately, but not unsurprisingly, this doesn't happen. The girls uncover the adventure but are on the verge of giving up. To make matters worse they find themselves wishing the boys would come as they wouldn't be frightened and would know what to do. Then, on cue, they arrive and take charge. Oh well.

Also in this story there is a rather ludicrous situation with the a boy the bump into. It is glaringly obvious what is happening, but it takes most of the book for them to find out, which is odd considering some of the more complicated puzzles they have solved in the past.

All this aside, it is very much the standard, and enjoyable fare we are used to.
Profile Image for Teresa.
580 reviews127 followers
August 25, 2019
And we're back on track with this one. Still not as good as the early ones, hence the four stars but definitely better than the last few.
The Five are camping out again because of Timmy for a ridiculous reason and the silly way George carries on. At first it's just George, then Anne joins her and after a few days the boys arrive. There's a bit of fun with another boy they meet which is obvious reading it now but when reading as a child it probably puzzled me too.
The adventure plot is getting a bit thin at this stage but was happy enough with the read.
174 reviews
December 16, 2010
Well the book was okay. The two twins, don't remember the name, were really exciting. When the Five discovered that bag which had the blue prints, I was feeling that now the adventure is over. But when they didn't find the blue prints, I thought that the adventure is still not over. At the beginning, the novel was really boring as Julian and Dick were not there. But they came and the novel too came to life. I would give this book 2 stars**.
Profile Image for Anna.
344 reviews7 followers
January 7, 2021
Not a lot to get excited about in this one. I don't recall reading it as a child, I didn't really the whole series (or possibly I've just forgotten I did).

The whole thing feels a bit daft as I just couldn't get past the Five not recalling the existence of twins. What I will give this story is there are a secret passage and an abnormally-happed gorse bush that serves as a convenient hiding place
May 21, 2021
Well,one more adventurous story of the famous five and an amazing one and this one was actually found out to be wondrous and well I always enjoy famous fives!!
Profile Image for Rosemary Atwell.
386 reviews25 followers
June 16, 2022
A semi-developed plot, flagging pace and far too many secret tunnels. The Famous Five are well in need of an adventure-free holiday. No ginger beer in this one, either.
Profile Image for Shabana Mukhtar.
Author 70 books154 followers
September 11, 2018
Famous Five, #15
Non-review rant
Some of the famous five books I owned (now donated to the library); others were borrowed from the library. Kid fiction is fun to read.
The plot
The plot is always that the five of the characters get into some trouble while seeking adventure. They solve mysteries, save others from trouble, eat a lot of delicious food.
Does it sound like HP? Yes, it is and above mentioned elements are common. Their adventures are not as severe and serious. And HP has a great world built inside the books.
The characters
I like how the characters are built. I can remember them for their character traits.

George: A slightly arrogant, but likable daughter, raised more like a son. Her father is a scientist.
Anne: Geroge's cousin. Almost opposite of George, behaves most sensibly.
Julian & Dick: Anne's brothers.
Timmy: George's dog. He loves food, and he is a savior in most of the story.

For kids, must read.
Profile Image for Emilia Haapanen.
14 reviews
April 18, 2021
Luettu lapsille (7 & 10 vuotta) ääneen. Lapset tykkäsivät, mutta tietyt juonen epäuskottavuudet häiritsivät heitäkin.
April 25, 2022
I should just say, I enjoyed it!! Really enjoyed the plot's progression and all the twists that Enid Blyton provides

I really don't know what else to say about this book, other the facts that the starting flow was slow (just like all the other FF books) And the ending felt the same

I must say that I'm not disappointed with the read, but I really wish that it brought something new to the table

Profile Image for Varsha Hasini.S.
75 reviews15 followers
February 8, 2022
Pray for me y’all, I really want to finish the Famous Five series by this year.

Timmy hurts his ear and has to wear a cardboard collar. Everyone mocks him for this, so George, our silly, bad-tempered George, decides to go camping to avoid people. Anne and the boys join later on. They find an old ruined cottage where they take shelter and the baddies want this place for their own as they are searching for the blueprints for some fantastic project (not mentioned).

➵The plot is completely unlikely to happen and in my opinion quite lame actually.
➵The Five are portrayed as complete idiots.

➵ At least Enid tried to give it a sci-fi horror look by adding glowing lights and standing shadows

Profile Image for Mary Lou.
1,007 reviews18 followers
June 24, 2016
Unfairly rating this as an adult reader. I recently read a poll listing the UK's favorite authors and was shocked to see an unfamiliar name in the #1 slot - Enid Blyton. As an Anglophile and someone who's worked in a library for ten years, it seemed unfathomable that I would not have heard of the British people's favorite writer, above Dickens, Austen, Rowling, and others! So I looked Ms. Blyton up and learned that she wrote children's adventure/mystery stories in the mid 20th century. This was obviously a nostalgic vote, but I still felt that I had to read at least one of her stories and tracked down "Five on a Secret Trail".

I probably would have loved these stories as a child. As an adult, it's a little harder to read decades-old children's lit. and appreciate it properly, neither being the target age nor generation. "Secret Trail" was moderately interesting, but, well... too easy. But I suppose it's the easy mysteries that draw kids in and lead them to Miss Marple and Sherlock Holmes later in life.
Profile Image for Sassa.
284 reviews6 followers
September 16, 2019
How in the world could I give a children’s book two stars? What a grump I am! Ok, maybe 2-1/2 stars because it got a little interesting with about 30 pages left in the book. The reasoning for my stars is the children do not model good attitudes or language skills calling everyone idiots and a**es. The consistent surliness of the father is abominable.
The plot was also repetitive, with just slight differences, from many plots before it.
Am I to understand this is the last of The Famous Five that Blyton authored? Nevertheless, there are six more in the collection and I intend to complete the set.
Profile Image for Rachelle Tang.
8 reviews
August 16, 2020
Never read any of the Famous Five collection?! You must read it NOW?! It is one of the best mystery stories I've read after the Sherlock Holmes collection. It maybe even better than Sherlock Holmes for younger kids and English beginners learners as the stories are written in more simple English than the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's ones, although it is simple there are vocabulary that you may not know too just jot it down and search it up on the net. A good way to learn English. This adventure starts when George ran out of home, I am not going to reveal anymore, read it yourself!!!
Recommended for Kids and beginners!!!
Profile Image for John.
667 reviews27 followers
November 23, 2008
As with all Famous Five books, this is of the same trusted and successful formula.

I loved these books as a child and I am delighted that my girls loved them as children too.

The stories are adventures of a byegone age, yet still hold the attention of children, around the world...... they have stood the test of time well - and for a great reason.

The stories are plausible, fun, adventurous and contain an excellent mix of young characters... with a little bit of everyone in each of them - something that children have obviously known for decades.
Profile Image for Hanif.
26 reviews4 followers
January 21, 2008
Petualangan KELIMA BELAS mereka yang seru dan mengasyikkan!

Lima Sekawan pergi berkemah di dekat reruntuhan rumah tua. Tapi benarkah rumah itu tak ada penghuninya? Soalnya di malam hari Anne mendengar bunyi-bunyian aneh. Waktu ia memberitahu yang lainnya, mereka tak percaya. Sampai mereka melihat sinar menyeramkan di tengah malam...
Profile Image for Summer.
137 reviews185 followers
April 3, 2016
These books (Famous five) are hands down one of my favorite books from my childhood. All those adventures and mystery …and those sandwiches they always packed! aww, just the best! I would love to read one of these again. To bring back those memories..memories of first experiences with reading books.
Profile Image for Jibin.
14 reviews
October 14, 2008
i liked this book because of the ghostly sounds and imagining it it was like lights in the stadium this book was about stolen blueprints which are very important and the blueprints were taken underground in a tunnel

Profile Image for Sarah.
54 reviews5 followers
November 19, 2011
This is one of the first books I ever remember reading alone, and will always have a soft spot in my heart. It remains one of my favourites out of the Famous Five series and was a wonderful book to read when I was young and still is just as enjoyable today.
197 reviews26 followers
May 22, 2015
It was amazing to read Famous Five again. Famous Five was the series that got me into reading!! I love it so much. This book was a great read it was so good to read a Famous Five book after all these years. This is my first summer read this year and it was fabulous.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 163 reviews

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