Talk-o-Babble, Episode 2:
Nancy Drew: The Secret of the Old Clock by Carolyn Keene
Hello and welcome to my second Talk-o-Babble episode, a book review on the latest novel I read, featuring Miss Nancy Drew.
Considering my love for mystery, it’s actually amazing that I hadn’t read any of the Nancy Drew books yet. I knew the character and saw several adaptations of the character, but I never got down to actually reading the original series. So I thought it necessary, and of course, started with the very first one: Nancy Drew: The Secret of the Old Clock by Carolyn Keene.
So let’s break it down.
To give a quick summary:
“Nancy Drew: The Secret of the Old Clock” is the first book in the Nancy Drew series. In this book, Nancy, a teenage amateur detective, sets out to solve the mystery of a secret missing will. The will belongs to a wealthy man named Josiah Crowley, who recently passed away. His estranged family believes his wealth belongs to them, but Nancy thinks that a young girl named Carol, who Crowley had taken in as his own, is the rightful heir. With the help of her friends and father, Nancy chases a slew of clues to unravel the mystery and ensure that justice is served.
Let’s talk WRITING STYLE—5/5
The writing style of “Nancy Drew: The Secret of the Old Clock” is engaging. It sweeps you into the story with fast-paced action and leaves you wondering what’s coming next. It’s wonderfully simple and straightforward, which makes it more accessible for young readers, but that doesn’t mean it’s not accessible for older readers. The author, Carolyn Keene (a pen name used by various authors), keeps the story chugging forward with interesting clues and plot twists that’ll keep any reader engaged.
Beware though, the reason the book moves this quickly is that the chapter cliffhangers are endless and suspenseful! They’ll lure you to keep reading without a second thought.
Let’s talk CHARACTERS—4/5
Nancy Drew is our protagonist. She’s a splendid mix of intelligence and resourcefulness. But those aren’t even her best traits. Being the daughter of a successful attorney, Nancy has a very strong sense of justice and duty for those less fortunate. Pack all of those traits into a beautiful young woman, and you have one heck of a charming main character.
Her friends, Bess and George, are also well-developed characters who play an important role in the story. But other characters, such as Carol and the Crowley family, are less fleshed out though they still serve their purpose in advancing the plot. But that’s just a product of how quick and short the novel is.
It’s the story of a perfect young woman surrounded by wonderful friends and family, who end up going against terrible people or situations. In my mind, it’s the female equivalent of an Indiana Jones-style film (or a superhero), where there’s nothing inherently flawed about the character except for their reckless bravery. They’re too cool, too good at what they do, and they have the money to do it.
Oh, and they always survive.
Let’s talk SETTING—5/5
Our story is set in a small town in the early 20th century, where we’re in a time before modern technology. This serves to give the story a charming backdrop and adds an element of difficulty to Nancy’s ability to solve the crimes. And while the book is a quick read, there’s no shortage of descriptions of the town, its landmarks, and other important details of the story, like the clock (as shown on the cover). It doesn’t bog us down in detail, but it certainly transports us into Nancy’s world.
What I love most about the setting is that because the book was written in the 1930s, I feel like I walked straight back into that time. The way the characters talk, the way they dress, and even the way the danger was written. That, and the fact that the girls go to a camp when they’re looking to have a fun time together.
Nothing screams older times than going to camp to have fun. It makes me almost jealous that I didn’t get to experience a camp like that with friends when I was younger. But then I remember all the horror films set in those places, and I’m ready to pass on them…
Let’s talk THEMES—5/5
Like most young reader novels, this novel has several strong themes that are present throughout the story: justice, loyalty, and perseverance. Nancy, like her father, is driven by a strong sense of justice. She believes that Josiah Crowley wouldn’t leave those he cared about penniless. This sense of justice is what compels her determination to solve the mystery. It’s paralleled in her father because he’s an attorney and is driven by that same sense of justice.
Nancy’s loyalty to her family and friends is unrivaled. She faces every obstacle with the belief that her friends are with her, supporting her, and so she strives to do the same for them. And her father. The entire case starts because Nancy wants to help him.
There are plenty of challenges that impede Nancy from succeeding, but there are none great enough to stop her. She’s committed to completing her goal of justice, despite the odds. This is both a charming and alarming trait of hers, because sometimes we, the readers, feel very worried about her! Such as when she gets manhandled and locked in a closet by a set of aggressive robbers. While there’s no threat of mortal danger, the danger of being left to die in a closet feels very real to her. Despite that, Nancy uses every resourceful trick she can to escape and then report them. From there, she continues to seek out justice, even though she’s now learned how dangerous that journey can be.
If I were to get into danger like that, I don’t know that I’d be as brave as Nancy is, but it’s fun to imagine.
Upon reading Nancy Drew: The Secret of the Old Clock, we can understand why it’s regarded as a classic mystery novel. Not only has it stood the test of time, but the story is also well-written, with engaging characters and an intriguing plot. My one gripe, my only gripe, is that I wish I had read these books when I was younger. Because even though it’s accessible to an older audience, it’s the perfect series to engage young readers in the wonderful world of mysteries. It pulls them into a fun story and encourages them to be as curious and driven as Nancy is. And even though the book was written in the 1930s, it’s still fresh and the themes are still relevant. Overall, it’s a fun and entertaining read that will keep you guessing until the very end.
I no longer wonder why the story has such a strong following and so many adaptations.