The Secret Seven
by Enid Blyton
Hodder Children's Books, 1949

The Secret Seven is the first book in the Secret Seven series, a mystery series for younger children. It is, as you may have guessed, very dated.

While this is the first book in the series, it starts with the Secret Seven already fully formed and active. However, until this point the society has just been dedicated to acts of charity -- collecting money for the poor, etc. -- and they are ready for something more toothsome. They decide that they will look for a Real Mystery to solve, and of course, they find one.

This series, and this book in particular, is all about the fun of having a secret society, with passwords and badges (yes, the badges all say SS on them), secret meetings and exclusive feasts of cakes and sweets. In many books the actual mystery may take a back seat to other concerns, but in this case things move along quickly; the seven find that strange men have been hanging around a (mostly) abandoned house, and they suspect them of being robbers... or worse. They collect clues, conduct interviews, camouflage themselves as snowmen, and crack the case (spoiler). The children are roundly praised and given a reward of... circus and pantomime tickets. Everyone is Very Happy.

It is hard to characterize this book. It is partly about the fun of being in a secret society and being a kid, with all the childish silliness that comes with that. It is partly wish fulfillment of young children who want to be important and eat many sweets. It is partly a story from an alien time when young children were able to trail strange men into the dark, snowy night without parents having a nervous breakdown. It is partly an actual mystery that is quite well written for the target age range. It's hard to judge how likable and relatable Blyton expects her characters to be, but they are clearly more relatable than likable, and in later books this becomes even more evident, with Our Heroes having some nasty traits when it comes to dealing with other children. Overall, enough of a mix to keep the stories interesting, although these are hardly Blyton's most popular books.

This book was intended for younger readers, perhaps 7-9 years of age, but it is also quite outdated, and is no longer a book -- or series -- that I would particularly recommend unless you are specifically interested in old children's mysteries. However, it does not make a bad read-aloud book for young children, and makes a good intro to exciting British retro children's mysteries for those rare children who may not yet be ready for stories of kidnappings and bad guys with guns... if they want those, they need to read The Famous Five.

The Secret Seven are Peter (the leader), Janet (his sister), Jack, George, Pam, Barbara, Colin, and also Scamper the dog. The children's parents and Susie (Jack's little sister) make up the remainder of the regular cast.

The Series:

  1. The Secret Seven
  2. The Secret Seven Adventure
  3. Well Done, Secret Seven
  4. Secret Seven on the Trail
  5. Go Ahead, Secret Seven
  6. Good Work, Secret Seven
  7. The Secret Seven Win Through
  8. Three Cheers, Secret Seven
  9. Secret Seven Mystery
  10. Puzzle for the Secret Seven
  11. Secret Seven Fireworks
  12. Good Old Secret Seven
  13. Shock for the Secret Seven
  14. Look Out, Secret Seven
  15. Fun for the Secret Seven

Note: Any of these titles that start with 'the' are likely to be found published both with and without that article, depending on the whim of the publisher; likewise, commas come and go.

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