For one, the original mystery was actually well-written and portrayed Nancy Drew as most fans know her. As for this new one...
To be fair, I will point out that there are some redeeming points about the book. The plot is actually somewhat interesting, and had it been better written, it might have really been a successful read. An abandoned house where an elderly women died under mysterious circumstances has become the latest trend for teenagers in River Heights to check out - but something is not right. When one girl who visits the house has a sudden change in personality, becoming nearly violent, her best friend calls upon Nancy to find out why. Is the house really haunted, or is there something more nefarious going on? There is even a cute little in-joke on page 9, when Bess asks George, "It's like one of those old mystery stories--do you remember that series with the yellow covers...?" And without giving too much away, Bess finally gets an opportunity to save the day, which was nice to see.
What wasn't nice to see was the constant portrayal of Nancy Drew as scared, jumping at her own shadow, and afraid to enter a haunted house. Since when?! Part of the appeal of Nancy Drew has always been her strong will, her determination, and her unwillingness to let anyone or anything frighten her. Trusted flashlight in hand, Nancy Drew has always been the one to lead the way down hidden staircases, around ghost-filled halls, across haunted bridges, and into darkened rooms. Yet, in this one thirteen-chapter book, the author manages to show Nancy screaming in fear, afraid to enter an allegedly haunted house, made sick by watching horror movies, and so scared that she allows George to take the lead. Nancy's reaction on page 70 pretty much sums up her character during the entire mystery:
I took in a breath, glancing back at the dark, creepy house. I don't want to go back in there. My stomach clenched at the very thought.Seriously? I've never been one to cry out, "That's not my Nancy!" I've always been willing to give the reboots and various series a chance. However, this is simply not Nancy Drew in any sense of the word. If it was the author's idea that the story served to show readers that if Nancy can overcome her fears, we can overcome ours, then it failed miserably. Nancy does not overcome her fear in this book; if anything, it gradually grows more intense with each chapter.
I can only hope whoever wrote this book does not write any more books in this series. This is the problem with having a rotating crew of ghostwriters - it's hit or miss with the stories, and you sometimes end up with great plots but very, very poor execution. Now we'll see what happens with the next book, Famous Mistakes. Hate the title, love the cover, so I guess we can only hope the story inside will be far better than this one.
RATING: 4 horror-themed DVDs out of 10 for the haunting title and the spooky cover - it's just a shame the story inside couldn't measure up.