Books & Literature

Book Review: Alice-Miranda and the Christmas Mystery, by Jaqueline Harvey

JUNIOR FICTION: Christmas is almost here, and Alice-Miranda and her closest friends are celebrating
early at Highton Hall. But it’s not all gingerbread, parties and present shopping. There are mysteries to be solved!

For those who have grown to love Alice-Miranda, or are fans of Enid Blyton, this is a great story for the competent middle-grade reader.
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Feature image credit: Penguin Books Australia

Alice-Miranda is back! This time it is Christmas at Highton Hall and she has invited all her friends to her home as soon as school breaks up, for an early celebration. But as usual, there are mysteries to solve. This time, she needs to find out why the Christmas decorations are disappearing around the town, and secondly, why are all the stores low on stock, including her own family store? And to top it all off, Alice-Miranda’s best friend Millie (full name Millicent Jane Mcloughlin-McTavish-McNoughton-McGill) is definitely not getting on well with Caprice. When sparks continue to fly, Alice-Miranda needs to step in. Alice-Miranda is trying to solve several mysteries at once and the reader will need to keep on their toes.

Alice-Miranda (full name Alice-Miranda Highton-Smith-Kennington-Jones) is always positive and looks for the good in everyone she meets. She is now 12 years old, has always spoken like an adult, and loves sitting down for a cup of tea.

This book feels more fantasy than real life, as Alice-Miranda being such a poised, intelligent, kind, socially aware, and philanthropic child seems improbable. It also feels like it is poking fun at the English aristocracy with their hoity toity customs, manor houses, and lavish expenditure. It is terribly British and far removed from the lives of our more down-to-earth Aussie kids, but it is reminiscent of the old stories from authors such as Enid Blyton.

Twelve-year-old children, the present age of Alice-Miranda, may not still be interested in her exploits, but younger readers who have grown to love her will want to find out what happens next in her very unusual life.

There are many different characters in the story and it is sometimes difficult to keep track of who is who. Thankfully, there is a “Cast of Characters” at the back, which alas was discovered too late for this reader. Fans of Alice-Miranda will already be aware of this. Astute fans will notice two references to Kensy and Max (another of Harvey’s series for children).

At 412 pages, this is quite a lengthy book. It feels like something for an older child, but they may have already moved on to stories with more believable plots, or those with heavier themes. This reader felt the continued reference to Alice-Miranda as “the girl’ a little annoying and at times confusing. It would have been more preferable to read “she” or use her actual name.

But, Alice-Miranda is a lovely positive role model for any child. Her view of the world is usually sunshine and roses, and if you or your child are wanting a story that is harmless with great role models, or you just want to find out what happens next in Alice-Miranda’s crazy and interesting life, you will want to pick up a copy of Alice-Miranda and the Christmas Mystery.

Reviewed by Sue Mauger

The views expressed in this review belong to the author and not Glam Adelaide, its affiliates, or employees.

Distributed by: Penguin Books Australia
Released: October 2023
RRP: $16.99

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