When you’re twelve years old and want to travel the world as a reporter for International Schoolgirl magazine you’d better be able to prove you can find a good story at home first.
Budding reporter Daisy Cooper finds the perfect school when she wins a place at the brilliant but eccentric Darlington School for Girls. With maths classes that involve poker games, science lectures where pupils fire rockets and biology lessons that take place in a real zoo it is everything she could have wished for.
The school is also home to International Schoolgirl, a magazine that sends specially chosen pupils – International Schoolgirls – on adventures across the globe in search of ground-breaking stories. To travel the world as a reporter is something Daisy has always wanted and she dreams of being chosen.
Daisy begins an adventure closer to home, however, when she gets lost in the school maze one evening and stumbles across the mysterious Sisters of the Black Night – a hooded secret society that meets under the cover of darkness. Convinced The Sisters are up to no good Daisy enlists the help of her dorm mates – the 88ers – to get to the bottom of the mystery. It’s an adventure that takes her through ancient pirate diaries, shark infested tunnels, perilous sword fights and on motorcycle chases through the stormy English countryside. When Daisy finally discovers The Sisters’ dark secret she has to make the most difficult choice of her life: having the job she always dreamed of, or doing what’s right. (Goodreads)
I picked this book up as a freebie after seeing it in a blog post or email, I can’t quite remember which. I have to admit that it was the great cover that hooked me (you have to check out the video about the cover. A link is at the end of this review). I don’t even think I read the blurb.
So, when I sat down to read it I had no idea what to expect, except perhaps that it would be a fun middle grade mystery. Once I got into it, I realised that it was about a young girl from a background of average means, with above average intelligence and a good heart. When it was revealed that her mother had died of cancer I was sold, and felt a bond with Daisy, given my own young daughter’s recent battle with cancer (which she’s winning). Another issue that sits in this story is bullying … something that doubled my empathy and support for Daisy.
The plot cruised along as she settled into her new school, she made friends, and found enemies. I thought to myself that this was just going to be a cute tale of a new girl in a new school with maybe a little mystery thrown in. It’s not really what I’d normally get into, but I was cool with giving it a go.
Then when chapter 16 arrived, it all went into hyper drive. We were suddenly whisked from the pristine private school to a tale of pirates in a blur. One underlying theme that I noted in this one is definitely strong females – both good and bad. In fact, I think all of the main characters were female (I think it’s refreshing to see), which I’m sure would appeal to many readers bored with the usual male heroes.
As the pirate story progressed, there were some violent facets of the plot, which, based on the beginning of the book were totally unexpected. The change in pace hooked me and I became keen to finish the book and see how it all panned out. The plot was full of surprises and filled with plenty of action that I didn’t see coming.
Daisy has a big heart and she’s faced with some very troublesome and aggressive opponents. Each page brings more events for her to prove, to make things right and end the reign of the baddies. I won’t go into detail, but I will say that this book had way more action in it than I’d expected. It had a cool back story that linked well into the current day. Daisy’s story looks set to continue with future books.
This was a real surprise package for me, given that I grabbed a copy based on the cool cover. Recommended for readers who love female heroes and action rolled into the one story.
Note: I don’t claim to be a pro-reviewer, I am a reader. My reviews are based on my personal thoughts around the story that the book is trying to tell. I try to focus on the story (which is the reason I read) rather than dissect the book and pass comment on typos, writing style or structure.