Nancy Drew #11: Curse of Blackmoor Manor

At Blackmoor Manor, you as Nancy Drew have been asked to stay there as you try to figure out why the lady of the manor, Linda, is behaving so strangely. With an illness that no one understands, she refuses to leave her bed or even let anyone look at her.

Other weird things happen during your stay. Cloaked figures in the night, chanting in the halls, man-eating plants and messages from unknown people are only a handful of things Nancy will encounter. Is it just coincidence, or is Blackmoor really cursed?

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When my sister and I started this game, we knew it would be creepy, but we didn’t expect it to be truly dark. In fact, we only got a little ways through this one when we decided we weren’t comfortable finishing it. There are differences between being creeped out, being scared, and both at once. This was a both at once case.

We have handled the eerie and the ominous, but this went beyond what we prefered. The theme of the game was just too diabolic. Between the chanting, talk of witchcraft, and the possibility of lycanthropy (people turning into monsters, whether physically or mentally), we uninstalled it and moved on. If you are wanting to be really creeped out, go ahead, but for me personally there are too many other games that are more family-friendly.

Creepiness Factor: 7/10

 

The Wanderer, by Sharon Creech

“The sea, the sea, the sea. It rolled and rolled and called to me. Come in, it said, Come in.” Sophie hears the sea calling to her, promising adventure as she sets sail for England with her three uncles and two cousins. All boys.

Cody, the second cousin, is just as enthusiastic for adventure as she is. His one chance to prove he is capable and helpful to his father, who never takes him seriously.

As the crew battles the ocean to reach their grandfather, Sophie manages to offer what none of the men expected. As they sail towards England, each person learns something about each other, the world, and themselves.

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Sorry to disappoint you, but this is not really an adventure story. Less adventure, more feeling. And no, it isn’t historical fiction. I can’t exactly remember why exactly they decided to sail, other than why not?

This book….it has always left a deep impression on me. It is written with a lot of emotion poured into it, and is a good balance between dialogue and lyrical-ness. The conversation was so deep and moving it always manages to make me cry. Yes, I have read it quite a few times. It’s the kind of book in which I always keep a bookmark at my favorite parts.

A great read for both boys and girls. Probably not a good read-aloud, as it is written in diary form.

Definitely my favorite Sharon Creech book, except for maybe the Castle Corona, which was just a little wittier.

Overall Rating: 5/5

Violence: 1/10

Language: 0/10 (maybe?)

Inappropriateness/Romance: 1/10

Audience: Ages 10 and up

The Mysterious Benedict Society, by Trenton Lee Stewart

When the ad in the newspaper said ‘”Are you a gifted child looking for special opportunities?”, Reynie jumps on the chance to escape the orphanage. He is rather peculiar, very bright, although not particularly knowledgeable.

The tests which Mr. Benedict set before him and his new-found friends are made to evaluate their potential skills and the strength of their minds. Because the plans he has made for them will most certainly need concentration, quick wits, willingness to work and rely on one another, and bravery.

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This book was…pretty good. I loved the beginning, everything about it. The puzzles were clever and most certainly the best part in the book. The plot structure was only okay, a bit on the over-used side (man taking over the world, kids, without the help of adults, out to stop him). The villain was never very creepy or frightening, yet his plot to take over the world was fresh and had the potential to be frightening. It felt toned down for kids, which is totally fine. It broadens the age spectrum by a lot. It actually felt a lot like Spy Kids.

My main concern was how long the book was for the amount of plot. In the audio, there are eleven discs. Compared to the last Harry Potter (which was seventeen discs, which had a lot of side stories and a lot of plot), this one slowed down in the middle and drew it out longer than it needed to be.

All in all, fairly entertaining, although I think I will wait to read the second one because I feel a little burned out, like he killed the plot to death, which is a little disappointing.

For kids, this is a great, interesting action book without being very scary.

 

Overall Rating: 4/5

Violence: 3/10 (the only major violence is probably brain-washing quite a few workers at an institute, the process isn’t explained, and perhaps the mention of a certain room in this institute will strike fear in a mind because no one knows what is in it, although it turns out to be not so bad)

Language: 0/10

Inappropriateness/Romance: 0/10

Audience: Ages 7 and up

Homeless Bird, by Gloria Whelan

Koly, like most other 13-year-old girls from India, is getting married. She has never met her husband, but she will leave her home and family forever to begin a new life with him and his family.

Yet Koly finds that the world she thought she lived in harsh and cruel. It lies, cheats, and steals her very life from her, piece by piece, leaving her without a clue as to what to do next. Her life has always been commanded by tradition, and it is out of desperation that she leaves it behind.

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This book was fairly good. The plot had some twists I didn’t see coming. The best way to describe this book was blunt. The way their religion states what they do, no questions asked. The way Koly’s future simply is, not what it will become.

Koly is a great character. By the time the book is finished, you do feel close to her. That was probably the best part in the story, was Koly herself and the way she just plowed through life until the blade broke.

The author was very careful when writing the whole young-marriage thing. I wouldn’t have picked this book out myself because of that, but it was done in a way that doesn’t creep you out or is inappropriate.

What confused me the most was I thought this was a historical fiction novel. But it wasn’t; being third-world it felt historical. Then every once in a while it would throw in things that eventually brought you closer and closer to present day, until I had to let go of the idea that it was historical fiction and moved on.

There is one part towards the end of the book in which Koly is tricked into drinking an amount of alchohol, yet aside from that the book is fairly clean.

Overall Rating: 3.5/5

Violence: 2/10

Language: 0/10

Inappropriateness/Romance: 3/10 (aside from being married at 13, there was only a very little romance)