MRS. MURRAY’S HIDDEN TREASURE
by Emily-Jane Hills Orford
There is a hidden treasure in the grand old mansion on Piccadilly Street, in a place called London, but not the real London of English fame. There’s also a lot of mystery and a murder that’s been unsolved for decades. But it’s the treasure that captures Mary’s interest. Mary lives in this house along with her family, her Brownie friends and a ghost. When the ghost reveals her secret about the hidden treasure, there’s no stopping Mary, her Brownie friends, or her enemies from searching for this treasure. Why the intrigue? Apparently there’s a little bit of magic connected to this treasure. And so the adventure begins. Who will find the treasure first?
Once the house settled down for the night, Mrs. Murray, the resident ghost, was out on her nocturnal prowl. Satisfied that the house was safe and secure for the night, after all the musical vibrations that shook the rafters earlier, she took her place at the end of Mary’s bed and waited patiently for the girl to stir from her sleep and take note of her presence.
“What?” Mary groaned, pulling her eyes open as she emerged from a deep sleep. “What now?”
“We need to talk.” The wispy figure of what was once a very distinguished looking lady, sat down at the end of Mary’s bed and looked the girl firmly in the eye.
“Now?” Mary groaned. “It’s the middle of the night. What time is it?”
“What difference does it make? Sit up and let’s talk.” The ghost was not going to take ‘no’ for an answer. And, it would appear, feigning sleep would not send her away either. So, Mary pushed herself into a sitting position and rubbed her eyes again, hoping to eradicate the sleep that threatened to make them close.
“Where are the others? Where’s Brunny?” she asked.
“Asleep in their little space. And it’s not a natural sleep either. They’re all in the deepest of sleeps, all except Elizabeth, who slipped out of the house a few hours ago, just after the lights went out and your family snuggled in for the night.” Mrs. Murray slid a little closer to Mary. “She’s still not right, that Elizabeth. She’s good and well shackled by that witch.”
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This is an adorable middle-grade fantasy that I quite enjoyed reading. It’s second in a series, and not having read the first one, I can’t speak to how it follows. On its own, it holds up well. There was enough backstory for me to get a feel for what came before. There were a few places where I was confused, but they didn’t last long.
My favorite part of this book is the house. It’s clear from the author’s bio and notes in the book that the house is important and based on somewhere she actually lived. As a result, it feels so real on the page. Hidden passages, ghosts, mystical creatures—I’m hooked. This is the kind of setting I wish I could just explore on my own time.
The conflict was tense, and the villain was the kind worth disliking. It’s always interesting when the bad guy torments the good guys by being in a position of authority away from magic. Watching Mary and her friends try to wage a battle against someone in a situation where they couldn’t reveal their secrets was great. When that battle moved to the magical realm, everything came to a crash. It was built up well.
The characters felt real for the most part. Mary is a protagonist worth cheering for, and her friends are wonderful. I felt a little disconnect between the modern setting and the almost historical personalities of some characters. It worked for the creatures, but even Mary’s parents seemed a bit historical. Otherwise, this was a gem of a read that I recommend for the young and young at heart.
An avid gardener, artist, musician and writer, Emily-Jane Hills Orford has fond memories and lots of stories that evolved from a childhood growing up in a haunted Victorian mansion. Told she had a ‘vivid imagination’, the author used this talent to create stories in her head to pass tedious hours while sick, waiting in a doctor’s office, listening to a teacher drone on about something she already knew, or enduring the long, stuffy family car rides. The author lived her stories in her head, allowing her imagination to lead her into a different world, one of her own making. As the author grew up, these stories, imaginings and fantasies took to the written form and, over the years, she developed a reputation for telling a good story. Emily-Jane can now boast that she is an award-winning author of several books, including Mrs. Murray’s Ghost (Telltale Publishing 2018), Mrs. Murray’s Hidden Treasure (Telltale Publishing 2019), Queen Mary’s Daughter (Clean Reads 2018), Gerlinda (CFA 2016) which received an Honorable Mention in the 2016 Readers’ Favorite Book Awards, To Be a Duke (CFA 2014) which was named Finalist and Silver Medalist in the 2015 Next Generation Indie Book Awards and received an Honorable Mention in the 2015 Readers’ Favorite Book Awards and several other books. A retired teacher of music and creative writing, she writes about the extra-ordinary in life and the fantasies of dreams combined with memories.
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