Strangers at Witchend (by Malcolm Saville)

Once I get into re-reading the Lone Pine series by Malcolm Saville, I want to continue to the end. This were one of my favourite series as a young teenager - I bought copies of the books when I was about fourteen - and I've re-read them more than once as an adult.

'Strangers at Witchend' is the eighteenth in the series of twenty which started with 'Mystery at Witchend'. It features seven of the nine Lone Piners, back in their beloved Shropshire. However, instead of the usual peace, they find strangers appearing wherever they go, some of them poking around the family home of Witchend. Peter's father meets an unpleasant stranger from his past, and James Wilson the reporter is on the trail of some fake jewellery that's flooding the stories.

David and Peter (Petronella), Tom and Jenny are all rather preoccupied, so the bulk of this adventure falls on the ten-year-old twins Richard and Mary, their loyal dog Mackie, and their friend Harriet. They wander around the hills in complete freedom, despite the horrendous dangers that they fall into - a far cry from the way ten-year-olds are protected today! As a teenager, I empathised with them; as a parent my heart misses a beat at some of the situations they find themselves in.

Plenty of suspense and fast-paced action, with a fairly complex resolution. All good stuff - and a couple of very moving moments near the end when I found tears in my eyes.

Probably best for children of between about eight and 14, for whom the series was intended, but I still find them enjoyable as an adult. Currently in print again, although it won't necessarily last long; rather expensive second-hand.

Review copyright Sue's Book Reviews, 22nd November 2010

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