If you can believe it, we finished A Wrinkle in Time, and we have now moved on to The Hound of the Baskervilles, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. In other words, we are reading Sherlock Holmes.
Davy was very resistant at first, saying that he hated Sherlock. I asked him to give me a few readings first, and now he’s hooked. Trouble is, now Eli does not like it. Davy is definitely into scary while Eli is not.
A tip if you are reading this to yours kids: the first part is a little tough to get through. Basically, the whole point of the first few pages is to show how brilliant Sherlock is. Somebody goes to his office when he’s not there and accidentally leaves his cane. From the cane alone, Sherlock can tell you everything you want to know about the guy who left it. But he does it in a tedious and confusing way, and so knowing I had an impatient eleven year old, I just said, “So you guys know that Sherlock is a genius detective, right?”
I then got right into the very frightening family history of the Baskervilles. It was straight forward and easy to understand.
What Doyle does so remarkably well is suspense. He builds up slowly and carefully until the terrifying moment. For example, before the evil Henry Baskerville is found being eaten by a phantasmal hound, we pass another man who is terrified out of his wits. Then we see the reaction of the first witnesses, their horror before we experience the actual horror ourselves. The build up is brilliant. Doyle takes his time, letting the fear slowly sink in.
He gives us just enough details to great both a sense of mystery and terror. Davy really loves it now and says, “Well, I didn’t think I’d like it because I didn’t know it would be so scary.”
A warning—the scene where they find Baskerville is quite graphic. You may want to tone it down a little if you are reading it to your kids. That’s up to you. Davy is eleven, but loves scary. Eli is thirteen, and it’s a bit much for him.
What makes me feel a little better about it is there truly is a mystery here. You have clues, Sherlock puts them together, and then we figure out at the end who the culprit is. Even though it seems like we have ghosts involved, in the end it’s just like Scooby Doo.
Do you have any favorite mysteries?