Mystery of the Night Watchers
by A. M. Howell
This title was previously available on NetGalley and is now archived.
Pub Date 8 Jul 2021 | Archive Date 15 Jul 2021
GET READY FOR A HEART-POUNDING HISTORICAL MYSTERY…
From the award-winning author of THE GARDEN OF LOST SECRETS and THE HOUSE OF ONE HUNDRED CLOCKS comes a gripping new adventure filled with buried secrets and dark lies, set against the evocative backdrop of the Edwardian era.
MAY, 1910. As the blazing Halley's comet draws close to the earth, Nancy is uprooted to start a new life in Suffolk with a grandfather she has never met. With every curtain drawn shut, Nancy is forbidden from leaving her grandfather's house: no one must know that her or her mother are there.
As the mysteries pile up, Nancy has to bring dark secrets from the past to light - even if doing so will put her own life at risk.
Praise for A. M. Howell
WINNER OF THE MAL PEET CHILDREN’S AWARD
WINNER OF THE EAST ANGLIAN BOOK OF THE YEAR
“A hypnotically readable writer” The Telegraph
“Gripping plot as well as authentic historical detail” The Daily Mail
“Fans of Emma Carroll will adore this historical tale of derring-do and righted wrongs” The Times
“Atmospheric, full of period detail and most importantly, thrilling” The i
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 41 members
Reading this latest book from Ann Marie felt like coming home and sinking into the sofa. The style and voice was familiar and I knew that as the reader, I was in safe hands. The plot is instantly engaging, historical fact woven with mystery as the main character tries to learn about her family’s mysterious past. Truth after truth is unravelled as she learns about her family and about herself. The girl at the start, preoccupied with irritation due to her younger sister and a looming test, is far removed from the strong, articulate and insightful character we have grown to love and to root for by the end. Superbly written, as always, with excellent characterisation, this book will delight Ann Marie’s fans. When is the next one coming?!
AM Howell has this incredible ability to transport you back in time, back to a historical event and to a family with a story to tell, Always set in East Anglia, these stories feel real, the places can still be visited and the paths of the characters can still be followed! The maps at the front help to guide book tourists along the same streets from the book. The Mystery of the Night Watchers is set in 1910 in the weeks of Halley’s Comets’ close proximity to Earth. There were some who believed it was emitting a noxious gas and took to their homes, or carried gas masks, and some who took Anti Comet pills. Others rejoiced in seeing something that important people from history had also seen, knowing they may only get one chance to see such a phenomenon. Orbiting once every 75 years or so, this was a huge deal. Parties were held and there was excitement in the air. However, amidst the fanfare in Suffolk, there is a family with secrets. Secrets, as we all know, are wont to be revealed, especially with a precocious, determined young girl involved. Nancy, her sister Violet and mum have travelled from Leeds to Suffolk without any warning. Completely out of character, their mum is acting strange and it is disrupting to the sisters, Meeting a grandfather they didn’t know they had, told to stay indoors and out of the Cupola at the top of the house....there are more secrets growing by the day. When danger finds the family, it is up to Nancy and Violet, along with new friend Burch, to solve these mysteries and set the truth right. I love AM Howell’s characters and their personalities....a strong female lead with gumption, nerve and courage providing much needed inspiration to all young readers. The children all seem to teach the adults a thing or two along the way, proving why we should never talk down to children, or indeed write down to them. AM Howell certainly does not write down, the readers will face a villain, bullying and fear along this tale but like the heroine, they will be brave, strong and true! I love that the adults are trying to make the world a better place, whether through the suffragette movement, standing up for those who need assistance with the law or just ensuring that education remains part of a child’s life. Superb grown ups in this book and I cannot recommend this book highly enough. Another complete triumph for AM Howell! She goes from strength to strength in her books!
Set in 1910 in Bury St Edmonds, this story follows two sisters Nancy and Violet as they go with their Mum to stay with their Grandpa. Set at the time of the journey of Halley's comet past Earth when people are either celebrating its arrival or scared of what might happen and their Mum says they are there to help their Grandpa watch the comet. Trouble is afoot though and something isn't quite right. This is an exciting tale aimed at upper primary kids about friendship, family and bullying. Can the bully get their comeuppance ? This is a great story to explore themes related to early twentieth century England and how people lived. Kids and adults will enjoy this story too .
It's 1910 and, with Halley's Comet visible in the sky and only days away from reaching its closest point to Earth, Nancy and her sister Violet are surprised that their mum is taking them from their home in Leeds to Suffolk to stay with a grandfather they didn't know they had. And once they arrive, things get even more surprising: the girls are forbidden from leaving the house and must remain away from the windows; they are not allowed to go to the room at the top of the house, and their grandfather's apothecary shop never has any customers. The girls are confused and Nancy, in particular, is determined to find out what is going on. Why is her mum behaving so strangely, why are there late night trips out of the house and what are the secrets her mum and grandfather are keeping hidden? With the help of her new friend, Burch, it's up to Nancy to negotiate the dangers and uncover the truth about what is going on. AM Howell is a master of historical fiction and I always find curling up with one of her books rather comforting, and Mystery of the Night Watchers was no different. She has a way of drawing you in from the very beginning that makes you feel like you are part of the family, and I quickly felt as though I was travelling along with Nancy as she journeyed from Leeds to Suffolk. She mixes historical fact with fiction seamlessly which transports you back in time and will no doubt make readers want to discover more about Halley's Comet (the Usborne Quicklinks at the back of the book will be invaluable for this: you can browse photos of the comet from 1910, see inside the observatory in Bury, see women protesting for the right to vote...). The book will inspire children to want to know more about the science behind the comet as well as equal rights for women. For me, it was Cupola House that captured my imagination: the idea of this seemingly grand house that is dusty and neglected and linked directly to Greenstone Apothecary, the family business, had me wandering the corridors as if I was there. I could imagine evenings spent in the very top tower, sipping a blend of herbs from the shop below. The house sounds as if it is in dire need of love and life and there was almost an eeriness about it that hinted at the secrets that are begging to be revealed. Nancy is a character that many readers will be able to relate to: at the beginning of the book she is rather irritated by her younger sister, Violet, but time and her change in circumstances mean that she quickly becomes keen to help in any way she can. Although she gets it wrong at times (who doesn't?), her determination to help her family is what drives her on and why I admire her, not least for her desire to be a solicitor like her father. Burch, meanwhile, has strength of a different kind: from the beginning, we discover that he is delivering to Laurence Greenstone in secret as he knows nobody else will help him. There's a kindness and sense of knowing his own mind that is apparent from the first time I met him - he may be my favourite character! Mystery of the Night Watchers is guaranteed to be another resounding hit for AM Howell; combining history with mystery in a way that will keep you guessing until the end. This is a book you won't be able to put down.
The debate about illustrators not being credited for their work alongside authors in children’s literature has reared its ugly head again this week, with some people on Twitter voicing their understandable disappointment at this glaring omission. I’ve stated before here that some books I have either rejected or been drawn to initially simply because of the cover art. This very much continues to be so, with this book being a case in point, after I spotted its glorious cover on Net Galley and only looked at the author’s name to see who had written it after deciding I very much liked it. With this title, I have loved previous work by both author and illustrator and requested this fully expecting to enjoy this new title. That expectation of enjoyment is so important when reading, and is something that I try to convey to my class when discussing reading. If you are not looking forward to reading a book – especially if you are one of those more reluctant readers – then where is your motivation to pick it up? Fortunately for me, I felt fully motivated to read this; even more so when I discovered that it is set in a place I know and love and am very much looking forward to visiting again once things get closer to being normal, the beautiful Suffolk town of Bury St Edmunds. Our story does not start here, however, but further north in Leeds, where Nancy and her family are looking up at the night sky – keenly watching for the return of Halley’s comet. This is not the only unusual thing going on because Nancy’s mother has been acting out of character over the past few days – polishing shoes two nights in a row and staring at the clock in the hallway, causing Nancy to keep a watchful eye on her. Things become even stranger when, after kissing her solicitor father goodbye as he leaves for work, Nancy and younger sister Violet ready themselves for school, only to be told by their mother en route that they are going away for a few days and that the girls will need to be very well behaved and not ask too many questions. Once on the train, the girls’ mother reveals that they are to to visit her father – someone the girls have believed to be dead until now – who is in poor health and needs help to observe the comet. Following their journey, during which the talk on the train is all focussed on the arrival of the comet, the family alights at the railway station in the town of Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk and walk to where they are to be staying, avoiding the waiting hansom cabs. The house attracts Nancy’s curiosity immediately, with its unusual octagonal turret sat at the top of the roof, and she wonders if this is where her mother and grandfather will watch the night skies. Entering the house, it is clear that the girls’ grandfather has not been expecting them to accompany their mother, and Nancy and Violet are told that they will not be allowed to leave the house or be seen by anyone while they are staying – restrictions which baffle the girls. It soon becomes clear that whatever the real reason for their visit, it is not linked to the comet, however, and after Nancy overhears a series of conversations within the house and her grandfather’s shop downstairs, and sees her mother sneaking out under cover of darkness, she sets about trying to find out the real reason for their visit. As she does so, she uncovers a series of secrets about her family – secrets which threaten to place her family in terrible danger… There is a real air of mystery within this book, with so many twists and turns in the plot that even when I felt confident I knew what was about to happen I was completely wrong and I enjoyed the story all the more for that reason. The idea of staying with a relative who you have believed up until now to be dead, and then to have to follow some really quite unreasonable rules while doing so, is a genius one which adds enormously to the puzzle of what exactly is going on, especially as it is evident as soon as they meet him that the girls’ grandfather is much loved by their mother; that they are in cahoots with one another, and possibly have been for some time. Also running through the story are numerous references to the suffragist movement and equality for women. While many readers will be familiar with the better-known suffragette movement which came later, the suffragists had a key role in lobbying peacefully for women’s rights and their part in achieving the freedoms that women have now in this country deserves to be better recognised. In 1910, the time at which the story is set, girls such as Nancy and Violet had so few life opportunities, other than marriage and child-rearing, and the book very cleverly makes this clear to younger readers without it seeming like a history lesson. The sisters are both brave and bold, and determined not to let their gender stand in their way – especially Nancy, who aspires to work in law like her father – and as such are great role models to girls reading this. In addition to the glorious cover, which will surely tempt a great many readers to pick up this title, illustrator Saara Söderlund has provided some wonderful pictures to accompany the chapter headings, adding hugely to the reader’s pleasure, but without proving a distraction from the text, and I am confident a great many readers will enjoy looking at them as I did. Suitable for confident readers in Year 5 upwards, this is a brilliant book – packed with well-researched historical references, mystery and adventure and one that I am sure will be extremely popular when it is published on July 8th this year. Enormous thanks, as ever, to both Usborne Publishing and Net Galley for my advance read. A fabulous 5 out of 5 stars.
AM Howell is second to no-one when it comes to writing historical fiction and this one proves that she is only getting better with each book. We follow 2 sister and their mother in the run up to the passing of Haley’s Comet. Their mother then takes them to stay with their grandfather but something isn’t right. A wonderful story steeped in wonderful descriptive language that brings the words to life - you really do feel like you have been transported to post Victorian England. Beautiful story telling at its best.
What a fabulous book with incredibly brave female characters. Love the twist in the plot & what a climactic ending! Can’t wait for publication.
Within her latest offering, AM Howell has once again created a time machine: Mystery of the Night Watchers acts as a portal to the past. Once you open the cover, you step back into 1910 and, alongside the characters, nervously await the impending doom that might be brought alongside the arrival of Halley’s Comet. When Nancy and her sister Violet are brought to meet their estranged grandfather, their visit is steeped in mystery. They are not allowed to leave the house, their mother has begun some mysterious nighttime wandering and their grandfather’s shop is missing any customers. Can they uncover the secrets of the past or will the truth bury their family for eternity? A.M. Howell is the master of mystery! Her books are totally unpredictable and Mystery of the Night Watchers is no exception. It was impossible to guess which direction the story would take and this made it gripping for the reader. Within this book, historical fact and mystery are woven together seamlessly. I loved the inclusion of information regarding women’s rights and the suffragette movement, giving young readers an important insight into societal norms at the time. Mystery of the Night Watchers would be a great addition to any classroom bookshelf and is best suited for Year 5 upwards. Thank you to NetGalley for the ARC.
It’s May 1910 and Halley’s Comet has been spotted streaking across the sky. Everyone in Leeds is on edge. Is it safe? Will gas from the tail poison them all? Twelve-year-old Nancy is fascinated with comet but worried about her mother and all the things she isn’t telling them. Then, one morning, she and her younger sister, Violet, find themselves suddenly uprooted and transplanted to a new life in Suffolk. In her mother’s childhood home with a grandfather they’ve never met, the girls are surrounded by secrets. Why can’t they leave the house or be seen by people outside? Why does no one ever come to her grandfather’s apothecary shop? Why can’t they go up to the telescope at the top of the house to look at the comet as it moves closer to Earth? Determined to find answers, Nancy embarks on a quest to find out the truth about the people of the town, her grandfather and her mother’s life before she moved to Leeds so many years ago. A strong moral compass guides Nancy every step of the way as she strives for justice and the comet sheds light on so many secrets. This story is intriguing on many levels. I remember the excitement around Halley’s Comet when I saw it in 1986, age 10. Go back 76 years to 1910 and there must have been so many unknowns and gaps in scientific knowledge. Fears that might seem irrational now would have been very real. I also love the initial connection to Leeds where I now live. Reading Mystery of the Night Watchers led me to look at old photos of the area and see the train station as it once was. Reading any book by A.M. Howell is like stepping into the past. The fine details about characters’ world views and the historical settings are incredible. Nancy is a wonderful role model of a strong girl who is not afraid to stand up for what she believes is right. Through grit, determination and intelligence, she takes on the world and is not afraid to put the adults right. She learns important lessons about women’s suffrage, thinking critically about what she reads in the newspaper and how those in power are not always to be trusted. This is a powerful story that will challenge and inspire its readers.
The year is 1910. Haley’s comet is visible to the naked eye in the night sky as it orbits close to Earth. One day, instead of walking them to school, their mother walks Nancy and her sister Violet to the train station, where they catch a train to Bury St Edmonds. Here they meet a grandfather they never knew existed and become embroiled in a family mystery which has gone on for many years. As their mother and grandfather’s behaviour becomes stranger and more mysterious, Nancy decides she absolutely has to find out what the story is behind the hatred the mayor has for her family and enlists the help of local boy, Burch, to help. Haley’s comet provides the starting point for the story but it is really a story about jealousy, greed and standing up for the truth. As a fascinating aside I was surprised to discover that many people were terrified of the comet, thinking they might die from the poisonous gases it might give off. I received a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
It’s 1910,Halley’s comet is in the sky and Nancy is taken unexpectedly to stay in Suffolk with a grandfather she didn’t know she had. Enchanted by his apothecary shop and most of all with the forbidden cupola at the top of the house Nancy soon realises that there is a family mystery which she is determined to resolve. I loved this book! It has a wonderful atmosphere of intrigue with a strong sense of time and place . The simple but vivid descriptions of a small town watching and preparing for a party for the comet transported me back to a time so different to today. Readers of historical fiction will greatly enjoy this.
What a phenomenal book! Afantastic pacy read with a stellar twist!! No one can do historical fiction like A M Howell does!!
A.M. Howell (author of The Garden of Lost Secrets and The House of One Hundred Clocks) returns with a gripping new historical adventure, set during the Edwardian era. Nancy and her sister Violet live in Leeds in 1910. Halley’s Comet is coming, and many people wrongly believe the comet means destruction and impending doom. Without warning their mother takes them off to Suffolk to stay with their grandfather they did not know existed. Something very strange is happening and Nancy discovers that her mother has not been honest with her about their past. Their grandfather lives in a beautiful house with an observatory at the top and an apothecary shop below. But something is not right, and Nancy is determined to find out what is going on and why her mother has apparently lied to her for most of her life. From the very first page there is tension, and the themes of secrets and lies are continued throughout the book. A M Howell manages to convincingly portray the finer details of the period and deep sense of mystery in what makes a beautifully written, exciting and atmospheric adventure story. It is easy to imagine both the time and the setting (which is based on a real place in East Anglia) and the whole book is vivid with detail. Each chapter is headed with a small picture related to the story, illustrated by Saara Katariina Soderlund, and these are a lovely addition that contribute well to the overall atmosphere of mystery and adventure in the book. Nancy is an excellent role model as a girl standing up for herself and wanting more for herself than girls from that era were expected to achieve. Over-arching the entire book is the story of Halley’s comet itself; its portrayed brightness and the awe people experience watching it seem to linger through the story like the light from its tail.
The mystery of the night watchers was a historical middle grade novel that was thrilling and exciting! The plot followed Nancy and her sister Violet who have been brought to their grandfather's house who they didn't even know exist! They can't be seen but when Nancy sees her grandfather and mother sneaking in the night, she is suspicious. Family secrets are discovered in this gripping book! The writing was readable and immersive. The characters were realistic and the plot was incredibly gripping! There were some bits that I found a bit slow and that dragged on but other that that this was a brilliant read which I really enjoyed! Thanks to netgalley and the publisher for the E-arc! All opinions are my own.
I'm looking forward to this book coming out so that I can recommend it to all my middle-grade reading friends. Mystery of the Night Watchers is a fun, historical, family-focused mystery set against the backdrop of the arrival of Halley's Comet in 1910. Nancy and Violet are whisked away to Suffolk to stay with the grandfather they never knew they had, but their mother gives them strict instructions that no one must know they are there. As the world turns its eyes to the skies to watch Halley's Comet, sinister plots are brewing unnoticed in the shadows, and Nancy decides that she is going to solve the mounting mystery of her mother, the mayor, and the telescope at the top of the house - a telescope that is definitely *not* watching the comet. . . I really enjoyed the characters in this book. I liked that the grownups, though they made mistakes, weren't dumb, they were just trying to do what was best. I also appreciated that Nancy gets on well with and respects her stepfather and that the family relationships as a whole are loving and healthy in this story. I thought the children were a little precocious at times, but I didn't mind. Another thing I appreciated was the care the author took in making the story historically accurate in the smaller details, not just the main events. The story itself was engaging and it took me a little while to work out exactly what was going on. The big reveal was suitably dramatic (without being over the top) and I thought the bad guy was a great balance of nasty without being too scary for children. All in all, it was a great adventure. I'd read it again, and I'd recommend it as a family read aloud and to children 8+ If you like classics like The Secret Garden and the Little Princess, but you also love a good mystery, then this book has those classic vibes with a little danger and excitement mixed in. And the cover and interior illustrations are lovely. I'm giving it 3.5 out of 5 anti-comet pills. (I was given a free copy of this book by Net Galley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and I have in no way been blackmailed or bribed into giving a good review by any influential individuals from small Suffolk villages.)
I loved this historical fiction book! A great storyline, well-rounded characters, and a gripping plot. Another great read from A. M. Howell. Five out of five stars.
It’s May, 1910 and Nancy and her family are suddenly uprooted to begin a new life in Bury St. Edmunds with a grandfather she has never met. Set against the surreptitious backdrop of the Edwardian era, with Halley’s comet looming ever closer to earth, Nancy is forbidden from leaving her grandfather’s house and their presence there is to be kept hidden from the townsfolk. But why? What is it that they are hiding from? Where are Nancy’s mother and grandfather sneaking out to every night? What is the purpose of the secret observatory that Nancy discovers at the top of the house? As the mysteries begin to stack up, Nancy strives to uncover the dark secrets that her family and the town are hiding… but at what cost? I absolutely love A.M. Howell’s writing and the way that she tells such historically accurate stories, without patronising the younger reader. Her stories are written with respect for children’s ability to grasp period concepts and ultimately provide them with not only an exciting tale, but a learning experience too. I thoroughly enjoyed The House of One Hundred Clocks and The Garden of Lost Secrets, but I think The Mystery of the Night Watchers might just be my favourite of all. As the story develops, you find yourself trying to guess the twist or predict how it will end, but I think the mystery is so well-played out that the twists really come as a surprise when they are eventually revealed. I love the characterisation too; from strong female leads in Nancy and her mother, to an elusive grandfather who turns out to be ever so endearing, to a well-crafted villain in the town mayor. This book has all the ingredients needed for an exciting, twisty, middle-grade novel and I only wish there had been more books like this when I was younger, as I really feel they are a wonderful gift to children’s literature.
A.M. Howell has written yet another beautifully enchanting and engaging tale that will enrapture all who read it. My daughter is a huge fan and said that she felt totally lost inside the book, she read it in one sitting and said that the real world seemed strange after she'd finished.
I've become a big fan of A.M. Howell recently and this book didn't disappoint! Being a middle grade book you might expect this story to be predictable, but it was anything but! I was left guessing what the outcome would be and puzzling away along with the characters much like with an adult mystery. The writing, as always, was lovely and not at all juvenile. Overall I think this book was impeccable, and could easily be enjoyed by people of all ages.
Set in 1910 in Bury St Edmonds, this story follows two sisters Nancy and Violet as they go with their Mum to stay with their Grandpa. Set at the time of the journey of Halley's comet past Earth when people are either celebrating its arrival or scared of what might happen and their Mum says they are there to help their Grandpa watch the comet. Trouble is afoot though and something isn't quite right. This is an exciting tale aimed at upper primary kids about friendship, family and bullying. Can the bully get their comeuppance? This is a great story to explore themes related to early twentieth century England and how people lived. Kids and adults will enjoy this story too.