Book Review | The Swifts (ARC)

I received an advance reader’s copy (ARC) of The Swifts by Beth Lincoln. Since this version is just a proof and not the final version, I won’t quote directly and will keep my comments general.

The Swifts tells the story of Shenanigan Swift, whose family has a strange tradition: when a new child is born, their name is chosen from the family dictionary. And it certainly seems that her relatives are named aptly: her sister Phenomena is a brilliant scientist, her aunt Schadenfreude seems to enjoy others’ misfortune, her uncle Maelstrom is a sailor. So it is logical in everyone’s eyes that Shenanigan is mischievous. She, however, wonders how true that is. Is what she does because of her name, or because this is innately who she is? She doesn’t have much time to consider this once the family reunion begins, though—and especially when someone pushes Aunt Schadenfreude down the stairs. Can she solve the attempted murder, or is she destined to be nothing more than a trickster?

So this was really witty and charming! I really liked Shenanigan as the protagonist. She’s bright and, as you might imagine, a little disobedient. I also liked seeing how she is starting to question the veracity of her name; it’s a nice metaphor for the family expectations and a cool way to explore the idea of nature vs. nurture.

On the subject of names, though, I love them! From Atrocious and Pique to Flora and Fauna, there are a lot of fun characters. Phenomena and Maelstrom were two of my favorites, though I also really liked that Gumshoe talked like a Raymond Chandler novel (or what I imagine those novels to sound like, at least).

As for the plot, it was pretty entertaining. However, I will note that it’s a little more violent than most middle grade books of this style. It’s not inappropriate for ages 8–12 of course, but more sensitive readers might want to wait a little bit to read this. For upper middle grade and beyond, though, it’s perfectly fine.

Anyway, that aside, the mystery was a delight. It had an Agatha Christie-like feel to it, since it’s a fancy party in a massive house that no one can leave. The house is full of concealed passages and hidden rooms, and I wish we’d gotten to explore it even more. And the storyline is riddled with secrets and twists that make this a ton of fun to read.

In the end, The Swifts is a quirky, rollicking, and clever mystery. The characters (and their names) are brilliant, and the plot weaves through such a cool setting. I have no idea if this is the start of a series, but I would definitely like to see more adventures in the Swifts’ home!

The Swifts will be published on February 7th, 2023!

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