Emmy's dad disappeared years ago, and with her mother too busy to parent, she's shipped off to Wellsworth, a prestigious boarding school in England. But right before she leaves, a mysterious box arrives full of medallions and a note reading: These belonged to your father.
Just as she's settling into life at Wellsworth, Emmy begins to find the strange symbols from the medallions etched into the walls and stumbles upon the school's super-secret society, The Order of Black Hollow Lane. As Emmy and her friends delve deeper into the mysteries of The Order, she can't help but wonder—did this secret society have something to do with her dad's disappearance?
This reads like something I would have devoured as a kid: a great title, a boarding school, some creepy secret societies, found families, and lots of interesting school/research side quests. What can I say, I was always a nerd.
The Mystery of Black Hollow Lane follows the adventures of Emmy, a girl who's father disappeared when she was 3 years old, and who's mother is a child psychology literary star with, ironically, no time at all to raise her daughter by the standards she dictates.
With her mother's career rocketing into the the spotlight, Emmy is shipped away to Wellsworth, a prestigious private boarding school in England. Emmy is not really happy with this turn of events, but a mysterious letter referencing her father compels her to explore Wellsworth...and see if maybe the trail to her father isn't as cold as it appears.
Emmy and her new friends soon discover that Wellsworth is hiding secrets, and those secrets have secrets. Will Emmy discover the truth behind her father's disappearance, or will she find herself at the heart of a larger plot?
I found The Mystery of Black Hollow Lane to be extremely well written, engaging, and worth the time as an adult reader. In a way, it reminded me of old-school Disney movies as the audience is clearly middle grade, but the hints of adult awareness and humor are there. I'd imagine that parents would have a great time reading this aloud to their children.
Look at this cover. Now back at me. Now BACK to this cover.
The cover is amazing! It gets better every time you look at it, with tiny clues and symbols around the edges of the spooky-mysterious central picture. But, you ask, is the book inside as good as the cover?
Yes. Yes it is.
It's a boarding school story that reminded me quite a lot of Harry Potter (though there is no magic here, but that's okay!), and a twisty mystery that made me think of National Treasure, only British. There's a lot going on, and it's wonderful! Evil roommates, infuriating adults, thrilling sports, enigmatic teachers, new friendships, secret passages, arcane symbols, ancient artifacts . . . I mean, seriously, it has everything, and it's all brought together so well, and so believably! I just ADORED this book, I really did!
And you will too! Next year! I was lucky enough to get an advanced copy so that I could blurb it, and I'm sorry to tease . . . okay, not that sorry! HAHAHAHA!
The digital arc of this book was kindly provided by the publisher via Edelweiss+ website in exchange for an honest review.
This middle-grade debut novel really caught my attention from the very beginning. I tend to really enjoy books set in boarding schools and this one was no exception. I haven't read such a thrilling and exciting mystery novel in a while and because it's middle-grade, there weren't many distractions (e.g. love interests) from the main plot like it is often the case with YA or adult mysteries. I also loved Emmy and her friends a lot, their friendship was a bit too instantaneous but I loved their banter and relationship overall nonetheless. There was a small historical aspect to the story as well, concerning the school building and the whole mystery plot, which added a nice touch to the book. The only small problems I had were a few tropes, like absent and neglectful parents and the horrible roommate, which irked me quite a bit but they weren't prominent enough to make my reading experience less enjoyable.
I would really recommend to check out this book even if you don't like middle-grade because the mystery, in my opinion, is worth it.
As an adult reading this Middle School book, it was entertaining yet frustrating at the same time. The parental neglect that seems to never be acknowledged is not okay. MC Emmy manages to make some friends & come out of her suffer in silence shell so as to not seem so much a doormat. The secret society aspect is very mysterious & eery with a believable background. Is this the greatest book ever? No. But it is entertaining with plenty of plot & character development hence the 3 stars. A quick read if you are in between books.
3.5 stars. For a debut novel this is pretty good. Nothing super original here in terms of plot: girl sent to boarding school, makes a couple key friends, secret society (passage ways and all), bullying, absent parents, etc. Lots of intrigue, some action, tons of time spent doing homework, some soccer (football), and a good dose of mystery.
Characters One of the stand-out pieces of Julia Nobel's debut is that the narrative of our lead gal is very strong. Right from the first couple chapters I felt like she had a dominant, prevalent voice. Her personality shone through and she felt very real to me. Sadly the secondary characters were all a little flat, even the two best friends. I'm hoping this is an area that Nobel's writing improves and evolves in. After all the world expects well written secondary characters since Hermoine and Ron entered our lives.
Continuing Story This is a part of a series, and so not all of our questions are answered in this first book. However, enough of the mystery is revealed so as to not feel ripped off. The biggest thing that bugs me about the whole set-up, and what will continue, is our lead gals Mother. She's supposed to be a parenting expert; yet she's a really crappy Mom (not unlike Leonard on Big Bang Theory's mother). I'm not sure the choice to make her a parenting expert really made sense. I get the idea of her fame being in the way of parenting, and all that jazz; but I would have preferred she was just a movie star or something. Unless in the next book (or two?) we actually delve into the psychosis of having a mother who is a parenting expert. Given this is a middle grade book I'm going to say that is unlikely.
Overall This is a decent read. It kept me occupied for a period of time and reads up quickly. There's not a lot of fancy vocabulary in The Mystery of Black Hollow Lane, which is good for a middle grade book. I feel if I went back and analyzed this closely there are probably some plot holes and issues; but I didn't have any jump off the page at me or get in my way of enjoying the story. Overall a decent debut by a Canadian author; and so I am rounding up my 3.5 stars to 4. A tidbit of advice from this book that stuck out to me: "...when you prepare for the absolute worst, nothing can be as bad as what you’ve imagined."
Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review.
This is the first instalment in the Black Hollow Lane series.
Subtly eerie and full of mysteries but a little too slow to develop for me, initially. I still look forward to continuing on with the series, due to my love for the central trio of characters and my heightened intrigue as the novel progressed.
Sometimes you see a cover and just know that this is a book you must read. But I’ve been fooled before by covers, thankfully this wasn’t one of those times. The Mystery of Black Hollow Lane is a terrific middle-grade mystery adventure debut novel.
With a dad who disappeared years ago and a mother who’s a bit too busy to parent, Emmy is shipped off to Wellsworth, a prestigious boarding school in England, where she’s sure she won’t fit in.
But then she finds a box of mysterious medallions in the attic of her home—medallions that belonged to her father. Her father who may have gone to Wellsworth.
When she arrives at school, she finds the strange symbols from the medallions etched into walls and books, which leads Emmy and her new friends, Jack and Lola, to Wellsworth’s secret society: The Order of Black Hollow Lane. Emmy can’t help but think that the society had something to do with her dad’s disappearance, and that there may be more than just dark secrets in the halls of Wellsworth.
There is just something about books that have kids in boarding schools that I really tend to enjoy. Boarding schools just seem to me to be the perfect setting for mysteries, life-long friendships, and are ripe with opportunities for sneaking out past curfew.
In this middle grade adventure, the author has woven, not just one but two mysteries into the story while at the same time guiding Emmy through classes, bullies, and sports. The main mystery of this book is about a secret society called The Order of the Black Hollow Lane – the type of secret society that attempts to guide businesses and politics from behind the scenes. Wellsworth is the place where they start to find and train new members – all through the Latin club. The second mystery, which will probably be an over-arching mystery for the series, is about her father. Wellsworth isn’t apparently some random private school in Britain, but instead is where her father went to school. Some of the teachers knew her father and yet won’t talk about him. But Emmy’s questions still persist: What happened to him? Is he really dead? If he is alive why isn’t he around? Does the Black Hollow Lane have anything to do with his disappearance?
Together with two new wonderful friends, Lola and Jack, they begin to try and put the pieces together regarding the secret society and Emmy’s father, that includes a few close calls with curfew, teachers, and a mysterious secret passageway.
Audio Book Review:
Another terrific audio book to listen to narrated by Saskia Maarleveld, who has done many, many other audio books such as The Alice Network, The Victory Garden, and What the Wind Knows. With so many different accents to listen in this story from American to British to Scottish my ears were never bored and never once did I not know who was speaking. But in addition to the different accents, I enjoyed listening to the emotion that was played out in several of the characters. Mysteries and ghost stories are always perfect choices for audio because they can add so much ambience to the story and make you wait patiently for the next thrilling moment instead of allowing you to do a speed-read to find out what happens.
In short, this new middle grade mystery story is absolutely fun and wonderful and I can’t wait for the next in the series.
This was hella cute! The boarding school + some Malfoy-esque characters + a McGonagall-like teacher + quidditch being football instead + a secret society are all elements that make for a book I am going to like. I feel deprived that I never got to go to a boarding school as a kid. Weird shit always happens at them! See examples: Harry Potter, Truly Devious, this book.
I read that book in one sitting while listening to the audiobook on Scribd and OMG I want to sequel right now!
Dark Academia and middle Grade? oh yes!
I looooooved the writing style! I looooooved the story! I looooooved the characters! I looooooved everything about this book! It just missed snow and it would have been perfect hahaha
I feel like Boarding Schools are a perfect setting for a mystery book. You know making new friends, learning how to live without your parents, learning about yourself and discovering some secrets. Ok I know all boarding schools don't have secrets but still!
It definitely gave me some Harry Potter and Truly Devious vibes!
The main character, Emmy, is brave, smart, curious and is determined to find the truth about her Dad. With the help of her new friends, she will discover things she was not expecting. And that's what I love! Because I didn't expect things to happen either! I also found it a bit ironic that Emmy's Mum is a famous Psychologist specialized in Parenting when she barely listen to her own daughter. No communication at all in my opinion. So yes, you will read about Parent neglect but I feel like it's pretty common when you read about a Boarding School. That's maybe why, most of the time those kids seem a bit too mature for their age.
But to keep it short I want the next book in the series!
Ignore my usual stingy rating of three stars - I actually did really enjoy this middle grade debut. It’s a tale of mystery and intrigue, but also of friendship. 3 1/2 stars
The story follows young Emmy after her mother sends her to a boarding school in England. While there, Emmy begins to realize there may be more mysterious events happening behind the scenes, events that may even have to do with her missing father.
It’s a nice balance of slightly darker elements and a humorous dynamic among Emmy and her new friends, Lola and Jack. They make quite an adorable little friend group, and their devotion to each other was really what bumped this book up for me. The secret societies element was also quite cool and something I could do with seeing more of in media.
I think there’s a lot of potential here. It does read like a debut; some elements feel a bit brushed over here and there, partially due to the fact that this book is doing a lot of legwork in terms of setting up for the series. But as of right now, I think Julia Nobel is a promising writer!
While this book wasn’t anything that blew my mind, it was solid read that kept my interest. I plan to check out the sequel and hopefully follow Nobel along on her writing journey!
I read this manuscript during Pitch Wars last year and it was FABULOUS. It blew me away and I knew right away it was The One. I can't wait to see it in its final form! It is spooky, mysterious, and absorbing, and I fell in love with the characters from page one. There are many boarding school mysteries out there, but there's something so unique and gorgeous about this one with its spunky cast, vein of family loss and longing, and eerie Gothic setting where no one can be trusted. Keep your eye on this one!
man do i love me some middle-grade novels!! this was really cute <3 the mystery wasn't like a nancy drew mystery that you read the first page and you're like "welp, it was obviously *insert the criminals name*" it was a plot twist, stg. i cant wait to read the next book! i could've finished this in one sitting, but school work had me drowning. 4.5/5, recommended to middle schoolers or people who just want to read a fun little book :)
The Mystery of Black Hollow Lane is the kind of book I would have LOVED reading as a nine or ten-year-old. It has strong, independent kids with their own unique voices, an intriguing mystery (that the adults are dead-bent on NOT being helpful with), and juuuuust enough creep factor to make a warm blanket desirable.
Emmy's father disappeared when she was a toddler, and her mother is a "parenting expert" that is rarely around and emotionally distant even when she's physically present. At the start of the story, Emmy is shipped off to a boarding school in England, despite having never been there in her life. Never one to remain down for long (however much her mother's actions might hurt her), she acclimates quickly, making new friends with some of the more colorful characters at the school.
The mystery of Emmy's father's disappearance is a main theme, as she is (as many of us would be) desperate to find out anything about him, his life, and yes of course his disappearance. It was very intriguing to have all that thrown in with the typical school stuff (reminds me vaguely of Harry Potter here, considering the main friend group is also three people), and it seems the groundwork has been laid for future books in the series. Some questions were answered by the end, but even more were asked! I'm very eager to see when the next book will be released and what will happen to Emmy and her friends next.
I did wish there had been at least ONE adult who was straight with the kids, instead of constantly blowing them off or just trying to pretend things hadn't happened. Children are smarter than we give them credit for, and often able to handle things much better than we might anticipate.
I tend to have low expectations for secular middle-grade books nowadays, so I wasn't expecting to enjoy this one much if at all. I would consider this a decent start to a new MG Mystery series and plan to read the next book, so I'd say it surpassed my expectations--just not by much.
My rating is due to the slightly creepy club (more like a mafia than a club) and some language used by Emmy's friends. It wasn't a terrible story nor a great one, but the ending did fall a bit flat for me. All that said, I do plan on trying out the sequel, because sometimes the sequels are better than the first book.
Content: There are mentions of churches/chapels, priests, saints, monks, etc (more for the sake of their history than beliefs); A mention of a Muslim girl and her hijab; Emmy wonders if she's an anomaly or an evolutionary blip.
Being in pain; Being threatened; Many mentions of a society that does activities that aren't all legal & a blood oath (up to semi-detailed); Mentions of murders, murderers, assassinations, violence, wars, beheadings, fighting/hitting, etc. Mentions of blood/bleeding, injuries, & pain; Mentions of lies & lying; Mentions of bullies & their mean words/actions; A few mentions of divorces; A mention of Alice Cooper; Some lying & keeping secrets from an adult; Sarcasm & Eye rolling; Minor cussing is used often such as: 'bloody', 'bloody hell', 'duh', 'idiot', 'jeez', 'prat', 'screw up', 'shut up', 'stupid', 'suck', 'witch', and a 'what the bloody hell'; Mentions of curses (said, but not written out).
A couple cut-off mentions of items up a person's ____; A mention of a dad's new girlfriend being very young.
چقدر خوشحالم که سال ۲۰۲۰ رو با کتابی جذاب شروع کردم. اولش انتظار داشتم کتاب فانتزی باشه، اما در کمال تعجب هیچ اثری از جادو و جن و پری در کتاب به چشمم نخورد و متوجه شدم با کتاب جنایی نوجوانان روبهرو هستم! کتاب خیلی جذاب و تا حدی غافلگیرکننده بود و خوشم اومد که قشنگ داستان رو کشوند به کتاب دوم. امیدوارم کتاب دوم هم به همین خوبی باشه
This might have been a book I really would have enjoyed when I was younger. And for kids in the right age group, I'd probably recommend it. But I think anyone over the age of 15 would probably have some issues with it. The characters seem older than the 11 I think they were supposed to be--I honestly just pictured them as 14 or so in my head--and the English boarding school with dark secrets is an overdone trope. There's no real mystery, and nothing much actually happens when you try to map it out. It's very point A to point B to point C, with no complexity in either writing style or structure of the story or the characters. I think there are better middle grade mysteries. Some authors are great at creating genuinely complex and emotional stories that can be understood by kids and appreciated by adults but this one just felt too immature and mild for anything like that.
The thing about reading middle grade books as an adult (who does not typically read a lot of MG outside of horror or fantasy) is that, unfortunately, it's really easy to get bored! It's nothing against this book in the slightest — in fact, I think it will go over great with my kiddos at the library, and I'll definitely be adding it to the order form for them! — it just couldn't keep my attention enough for me to justify spending my time on it right now.
Thank you so much to the publisher for providing me with this ARC in exchange for an honest review!
A boarding school mystery to be solved and family secrets to uncover.
Emily is 12 years old. When she was 3, her father disappeared and her mother is a well known child psychology writer that ironically has no time for her own daughter.
So she ends up sending Emmy to a boarding school in England. Being the new kid at a new school is always challenging and Emmy has to catch up with classes in a foreign country.
However Emmy also wants to find out as much as she can from her father. A mysterious letter she received makes her believe that she will be able to uncover her family secrets at this school.
A great coming of age story with a found family and many secrets to uncover that will help Emmy understand what happened to her father.
A perfect quick mystery read set in a boarding school for middle grade readers.
Even though I had a really good time with the book I didn't love it as much as I had hoped. Some of the character relationships felt forced or unrealistic. Emmy's mom also changes quite a bit throughout the book with much explanation on why the sudden change of character.
But overall this was an enjoyable cozy mystery that will continue in book 2
This was such an amazing book! I had the absolute best time following Emmy on her adventures in boarding school.
This is the perfect dark academia book for middle graders! If you love boarding school settings, secret societies, and mysterious vibes, this book is for you!
The author kept me engaged and captivated from beginning to end. While the ending did fall into the cliché of having the "villain" reveal their entire plan to the main character, the villain's identity was such an unexpected plot twist that I don't hold it against the author.
I'm really looking forward to reading the next book in this series and I would highly recommend this book to anyone looking for a fun middle grade mystery story!
When Emmeline Willick's mother, a well-known American parenting expert, gets a job on a television show, leaving her little time to spend with her own daughter, Emmy is shipped off to boarding school in England. Once there, at the prestigious co-educational Wellsworth School, she confronts all of the usual challenges facing a new girl at school: struggling to find her feet socially, to come to terms with her difficult roommate, and to catch up with her studies. Emmy ends up making good friends with Lola Boyd and Jack Galt, two other students in her year, and joins the football (soccer) team. She also joins the Latin Club, at the insistence of her housemistress, and soon finds herself caught up in an extraordinary mystery involving her own father, who went missing years ago, on her third birthday. It turns out that Thomas Allyn was also once a student at Wellsworth, and a member of the sinister Order of Black Hollow Lane. As Emmy searches for answers to her long-held questions about her father's disappearance, she involves herself and her friends in a dangerous quest...
The Mystery of Black Hollow Lane has a number of elements - the school story setting, the mystery involving a secret society, the small band of loyal friends - that I find appealing, so when I saw an online friend reviewing it, I immediately sought it out. Insofar as I am influenced by such things as cover art, I found the decorative dust-jacket lovely, and was drawn in by that as well. Oddly enough, despite every expectation to the contrary, I couldn't become involved in the story, the first time I tried to read it, and had to set it aside. I suspect that it was just poor timing, because when picked it up again a few days ago, I read it speedily, and with enjoyment. I had my suspicions throughout, thinking that , but I turned out to be mistaken. I was looking for an unlikely adversary, but I didn't land on the correct character, which I appreciated. I like my mysteries to have a few surprises! It's clear that author Julia Nobel, who made her debut here, was influenced by the Harry Potter series. Although not fantastical, some of the other elements here - coming to a school you didn't know existed, where the parent(s) you never knew also attended, becoming part of a close-knit trio of friends, getting involved in a conflict with sinister forces - were very reminiscent of Rowling's books. Even the concluding chapters, in which the three friends descend into a subterranean world underneath the school, in order to confront the villain, felt similar.
Despite my rocky start, I definitely enjoyed this one - thanks for bringing it to my attention, Constance! - and will be seeking out the sequel, The Secret of White Stone Gate. Recommended to school story lovers, and to reader who enjoy middle-grade mysteries.