Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Nancy Drew Anthology - Writing & Art Featuring Everybody's Favorite Female Sleuth

First published in 1930, the enduring pop icon, Nancy Drew, has maintained pretty much continued publication for more than 85 years now. So, it should come as no surprise that fan fiction would sooner or later be collected into a published form.  The real surprise is only that it took this long to happen!

The Nancy Drew Anthology was published this year by Silver Birch Press, and as the tag line on the back cover says, it is filled with writing and art inspired by the forever-teenage sleuth, Nancy Drew.  With a rather appealing cover of Nancy Drew studying a book through a magnifying glass (with her iconic "mystery shadow" in the background) - an image I would love to get a print of! - the book holds out hope of being something special, something that long-time fans have probably dreamed of for many years.

I can honestly say I would be one of those fans.

My mom bought me Nancy Drew books when I was a kid, along with all the other mystery series back in the day, including Hardy Boys, Bobbsey Twins, Trixie Belden, etc.  But, for whatever reason, Nancy Drew always struck a special chord with me.  Perhaps it was because each book was all about mystery and not about adventure or science or nursing or such.  Perhaps it was because Nancy had strawberry-blond (or titian) hair like me, so I didn't feel so much like the odd-man out.  Perhaps it was because she was independent, quick thinking, and determined - qualities that any kid, male or female, would want in their own life.  Whatever the reason, I always loved reading the mysteries, and when I got back into collecting as an adult, I found the original text stories even more engaging!

So, I thought this book might turn out to give some interesting stories inspired by Nancy Drew.  Sadly, I found very little to be interesting (to me, anyway) within its pages.  First, this is not to say that the contributors were poor writers, or that the submissions were not worthwhile.  But, quite frankly, the anthology is overflowing with poetry in its many forms, and well, honestly, I can't stand poetry.  I have never liked it, and when I took two semesters of it to complete my Creative Writing degree at USF, they were my two lowest grades of my entire college career.

That was disappointment number one.

The next disappointment came when I realized that there was very little fan fiction at all in this anthology.  Rather, a good chunk of it is filled with authors' memories of how they first "met" Nancy Drew.  There is one short story, "Nancy Drew and the Secret of the Gravedigger," which is actually rather cute and brings back Helen Corning in a unique way.  There is also "The Mystery of the Northern Lights," which is toted as the last, unpublished Nancy Drew story, of which only the first chapter was written - it is a bit strange, in that it deals with supposed trolls in Iceland.  The author of that story does, however, have fun playing with Nancy's relationships with her friends, her father, and the police chief.

Now, that's not to say the book was a complete loss for me.  There were a few good little ditties that took the various Nancy Drew titles (either just the first 56 books, or in a couple of cases, the first 64 books) and integrated them into a story or poem, and there were several artistic images scattered throughout.

Would I buy it had I known?  Probably, simply because it is yet another Nancy Drew collectible.  I just wish it had been advertised as being more about poetry than anything else, so that I would have been aptly prepared for what I found when I opened the cover.  I have no doubt there are a lot of fans out there who enjoy poetry (Lisa coming to mind right away!) and who will thrill over the lyrics and rhymes they find inside, and honestly, I'm glad that they have something that appeals to their taste.  For me, however, this will go on my collectible shelf, likely never to be opened again...

RATING:  5 magnifying glasses out of 10 simply for giving Nancy Drew fans an opportunity to express their own creativity inspired by their favorite sleuth.

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