Title: The Witchmaster’s KeyHardy Boys #55 - The Witchmaster's Key
Author: Franklin W. Dixon
Pages: 179
Reading Level: 7-10
Star Rating: ★★★

Wait, a what?!

The Story.

Fenton Hardy didn’t have enough time to brief his sons, Joe and Frank, on the case before sending them over to London on a special investigation, but he put them in contact with a man who could – Professor Rowbotham. Imagine the boys’ surprise when they arrive in East Anglia and find it a coven crowded with witches!

The subject of their investigation is the disappearance of Professor Rowbotham’s collection of witching items, but they soon find themselves onto a larger racket…

Can Frank and Joe navigate their way through this tricksy world of omens and curses?

Discussion.

This story was fairly interesting for a Hardy Boys. It’s set entirely in England and Ireland, which gave it a fun, cultured feel, and the boys’ contact is an absent-minded professor who drives them about to places like Stonehenge.

Of course, what everyone’s wondering about is the witches. That’s where this book is unique amongst 1950s children’s fiction. Most authors would have jumped head over heels proclaiming that there were really no such things as witches, or else have had them casting spells every other second. The Witchmaster’s Key did neither – it didn’t dismiss the many claims of the characters that they were witches, nor did it give any actual example of magic in use. It just reported what was claimed.

In one of the last scenes, Joe and Frank are dragged before a dark council in which a group of so-called witches have decked themselves out in full ceremonial garb and are intending to sacrifice the boys to dark magic.

When the boys go to the beach, Chet Morton waggles his eyebrows and says hopes they’ll meet some girls. They do meet one girl who immediately latches onto Joe.

‘Gee’ is used once.

Conclusion. I thought this book was more interesting than a lot of their mysteries, but parents would probably prefer Hunting for Hidden Gold and The House on the Cliff.

Review © 2015 Laura Verret

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