Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Secret of Dinswood” as Want to Read:
The Secret of Dinswood
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Secret of Dinswood

3.52  ·  Rating details ·  31 ratings  ·  26 reviews
Desperate to get away from a home where she no longer feels wanted, twelve-year-old Emma Higsby is elated when she wins a scholarship to the prestigious Dinswood Academy boarding school.

Emma quickly falls in love with the renovated castle nestled in the heart of the mountains. But when rumors surface that her new school is having financial problems and may have to close,
Hardcover, 408 pages
Expected publication: February 26th 2019 by BHC Press/H2O
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Secret of Dinswood, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Secret of Dinswood

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
3.52  · 
Rating details
 ·  31 ratings  ·  26 reviews

Sort order
Evelina | AvalinahsBooks
Oh, how I loved this wonderful adventure! The Secret of Dinswood is just the kind of book I wish I had read more of when I was actually in my middle grade years. There's just something empowering about a bunch of kids solving mysteries and riddles, and potentially getting themselves in trouble, skulking around dark caves and castle hallways! Even aside from that, there's the whole allure of kids in a boarding school, especially one in a castle!

The Secret of Dinswood is somewhere in between of
Jan 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I received a complimentary of this eBook from the author, publisher and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

When Emma, Doug and friends find out that their boarding school is home to a treasure under the school with a riddle placed there by a famous pirate that recently used to live in the castle but died and gave the castle over to be made in the school, they go try to find it. Is someone else seeking it too? Read on and find out for yourself.

This was a pretty good action-packed adventur
Jan 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: net-galley
I loved this book! It's written with teenagers in mind, but I enjoyed it as an adult woman. This is a nice adventure story with mysteries. The start reminded me a little of Harry Potter, but without the magic. A few chapters in the story gets less HP-like and more into it's own style. I found some parts actually exciting, even though it wasn't very realistic. The parts describing the castle were very livid and I could imagine myself seeing it. Not too young-adult so no obvious romance was in thi ...more
Feb 04, 2019 rated it it was ok
It was too juvenile for me. And believe me, I love a good middle grade read. Sadly, this wasn't it.

The writing was all telling and no showing - too much backstory and too much over-explanation for and about everything.

To me, it felt like a slight rip-off of Harry Potter, but that is just my feeling. From the exact replica of Hogwarts and Hogsmead to teachers.

The dialogue was silly and I didn't care for any of the characters, the least bit about the main character, Emma.

To me, this was a pale
Jan 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
A great fun read about making friends and adventure. This is really enjoyable and easy paced. The characters are really relatable (even though I’m no longer a teenager) it’s aimed more at the early teen market and I feel would be a great read for them, although I’m older I still enjoyed it, but a younger reader would have more in common with the books. Lovely feel good factor. Really enjoyable.

Thanks to netgalley and the publisher for a free copy for an honest opinion
Feb 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is a fun, middle grade adventure novel set in a castle boarding school. Fans of Harry Potter who like the aspects of adventure with a group of friends in a boarding school location should enjoy this. There is no magical element to the adventures and most of the action happens toward the end of the book. The boarding school is a Christian school but the author is not heavy-handed with the religion. The book models positive values like patience, persistence, and being there for others. I woul ...more
Stephanie Roxane
Feb 03, 2019 rated it liked it
* I received this book from Netgalley and BHC Press in exchange for an honest review*

3/5 stars

Overall, I enjoyed the story. It was fun watching the kids work out the riddles, and there were several small moments of suspense which were good.

The writing was a bit hard for me to get into though. At times it felt almost too simplistic for a book marketed as Middle grade and YA, and at other times it felt too over the top. There were times when we’d get paragraphs upon paragraphs of description on
Feb 11, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with an ARC of The Secret of Dinswood by Ellen Alexander. I voluntarily read and reviewed this copy. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

While studying at the Dinswood boarding school, four teenagers become friends and discover that a treasure hidden by the school's founder could be what they need to save their school from financial troubles. In order to find the treasure they must solve all the riddles before someone else does.

The Secret of Dinswood is
Jan 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy, favorites
The Secret of Dinswood is a fantastic story that blends just the right amount of whimsical mystery with a believable world centered around the primary character Emma and her friends at Dinswood Academy.

If you are a fan of history-based mysteries and youths on the trail of the truth, I highly recommend this book. Not only is the dialogue organic and real, the descriptions of surrounding make it easy to paint the picture in your mind of what the scene looks like.
Jan 23, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: arcs
This book surprised me slightly by reminding me quite a bit of the classic Nancy Drew books. While I liked this to an extent, it also means this book had similar issues, mainly the cliffhangers that turn out to result in nothing. I also wasn’t a fan of the unnecessary descriptive paragraphs describing various holidays at Dinswood, as they ended up not adding anything to the story or the experience of the book. Rather than adding to the wonder if the school, the descriptions just took up space an ...more
Sarah Peters
Update: After posting this review, I checked out the publisher. They call themselves a hybrid publisher meaning the author pays a portion of the production costs. This explains how this book even made it to the release stage. It's essentially self-published.

I got 61% through this book and just couldn’t finish it. I don’t like giving bad reviews, but I’m compelled to since I was given this book in exchange for an honest review.There were so many things wrong, not the least of which was a storylin
Feb 11, 2019 rated it it was ok
**I received an ARC from the publisher through NetGalley**

I would rate this book somewhere around 2 1/2 stars. It's not poorly written, it's just not all that interesting or original.

If a non-magical Harry Potter and Goonies had a baby it would look something like this book - but it wouldn't quite live up to the legacy of its parents. I think the biggest problem with this book is that it was somewhat difficult to care about whether or not the characters succeed. In this day and age it is hard to
Feb 08, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
I received a copy of this book from Netgalley (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. This does not influence my thoughts in any way.

The book in a few words: Boarding school. Pirate treasure. Mysterious hunt. Beautiful friendships. If that does not intrigue you at least a tiny bit, then I'm not sure this book's for you.

The Secret of Dinswood follows a group of students from Dinswood Academy in their quest to save their school from financial troubles by hunting for Lord Dinswood's hidden t
Jan 08, 2019 rated it liked it
A group of young students strive to save their school from financial ruin by attempting to solve a series of riddles to find hidden treasure in Ellen Alexander's The Secret of Dinswood.

To read this, and other book reviews, visit my website:

After working hard to earn a scholarship to a prestigious boarding school located in a castle, twelve year old Emma is excited to leave her less-than-desirable home life, where she feels unwelcome, to head to Dinswood A
Jan 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery, middle-grade
This book is a middle grade adventure novel. The four main characters (2 boys and 2 girls) were 12 years old. Most of the book was a typical boarding school story: making new friends, learning their way around the school, special events like a dance and athletic competitions, and a little bit of romance. They learn about both the school's need for funds and the hidden treasure near the beginning of the story, but little progress was made after an initial failed attempt to solve the clues. The la ...more
Oct 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
I was given a free digital copy of this book from Library Thing in exchange for a review.

I thought this book was fun and suspenseful. There were a few parts that dragged a little bit for me, but I'm guessing the intended audience is more YA. I would have absolutely loved this book as a teenager. As an adult I have a lot more reading experience, so I'm used to a different pace.

This book reminded me a little bit of Harry Potter only because of the setting. It's set in a school in a remote area, l
Oct 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
3 1/2 stars. This a fun, clean middle grade adventure. It could use a little editing of some long descriptive passages and nonessential events (for example, a description of decorating the castle for Christmas could have been much shorter)- I skimmed through quite a few that didn't really add to the book. Never the less, it kept me reading to the end and I think some kids will enjoy it. It had a bit of a Harry Potter meets Goonies feel, minus magic and vulgarity. The whole mystery was a bit cont ...more
Rinku Geeyo
Nov 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya
I thoroughly enjoyed this book.
It led to nostalgia - as it had elements similar to the cool books I had read during my school days, and which were reasons I got hooked to the habit of reading.
The clue hunt was exciting...I loved the way the clues were revealed to Emma and her friends and the way they figured those out...... I loved that the clue hunt was not skimmed over.......the time it took them to decipher each clue made it realistic. (Some "Treasure Hunters" books I had recently read had n
Jelke Lenaerts

This book reminded me of so many things I loved as a kid, which made it so much fun for me to read. I loved the setting of the castle and the history behind it all. I also loved the mystery. It was so much fun. I also really liked the characters and their friendship. I didn't like the romance that was included i this, though. It's very low-key but I would have preffered it if it wasn't in there at all. It was a fun time and I would highly recommend th
Jan 22, 2019 rated it liked it
This rollicking story for middle grades was full of excitement and suspense. The theme was an enjoyable reflection of the stories I read at that age: boarding school and treasure hunts to save the day. The characters were suitably developed but there was too much extraneous description: needed to heed the advice from Stephen King [On Writing, 2001], "tell the story; if it doesn't move the story along, cut it out". (3 stars)

My e-book copy was awarded from BHC press in exchange for an unbiased rev
Feb 02, 2019 rated it liked it
This was such a fun read! A group of boarding school kids trying to solve riddles and mysteries is always something I find entertaining. I feel like if you enjoy mystery with tons of fun, a good cast of characters and school setting then this will definitely be a hit for you.

Even though I enjoyed this book, I can't say that I loved it. Nothing was wrong with it per se, but I guess I just wanted something more in order to fully love this story.
Jan 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was such a fun book! I loved reading about all the adventures of every day life at Dinswood, and of course the hunt for the treasure. Some parts were very repetitive, but it was still an enjoyable read. I hope to read more about the gangs future years at Dinswood.
Feb 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: middle-grade, mystery
*** I received a copy of this book free from the publisher in exchange for a fair review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. ***

3 1/2 stars. A solid middle grade read perfect for those looking for a light-hearted treasure hunt with a bit of suspense. Good characters with a plot that moves well. Needs a little tightening in the prose, but overall a good read. Feels like a mix of Harry Potter, Nancy Drew, and a little Goonies.

For full review: The Secret of Dinswood on EPJ
rated it liked it
Jan 08, 2019
rated it it was amazing
Jan 24, 2019
Sue Hauck
rated it it was amazing
Jan 24, 2019
Swathi Ashok Kumar
Feb 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
I wasn’t a fan of the unnecessary descriptive paragraphs describing various holidays at Dinswood, as they ended up not adding anything to the story or the experience of the book. Rather than adding to the wonder if the school, the descriptions just took up space and took me out of the story. The kids solving the riddles was fun to read and see it come alive. However, it did have a Nancy Drew feel to it but was not upto that mark. All in all. it is a nice book but not a special read.
rated it it was amazing
Feb 05, 2019
Feb 17, 2019 rated it liked it
Overall I enjoyed this book, although it took me a while to really get into it. The storyline was great: piracy, mystery, adventure, friendship, and a little young love. Where it lacked was in actual writing. Sometimes it seemed a little too simplistic, and I also felt like it spent too much time going into detail about things that really didn’t matter, such as exactly where the friends went at all moments of a given day.

Despite that, the storyline won me over, and I really hope that there will
rated it did not like it
Jan 08, 2019
« previous 1 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »