Walker Books Australia (2013)
Reviewed by Tehani Wessely
With this sequel to the CBCA Honour Book The truth about Verity Sparks, author Susan Green brings Verity to Australia, specifically to Melbourne, in 1879. With her come her newfound Papa, and most of her friends from the first book, including SP, Judith and Daniel. But Verity’s gift for finding things has deserted her, and now her papa thinks that maybe she should be focussed on becoming more lady-like and less involved with the business of investigation. But Melbourne brings with it new opportunity for adventure, and new criminals to uncover, leaving Verity conflicted – can she make her papa happy while still staying true to herself?
I was so excited to see the new Verity book in my review book parcels, as I thought The truth about Verity Sparks was one of the best books (for children OR adults) that I read in 2011. Unfortunately, while I found it enjoyable, Verity Sparks, lost and found is not quite the excellent read that its predecessor was. To me, there are actually two distinct books within one cover, and given the target audience of the series, I would have preferred to see this split into two – the very clear marker for the end of the first “mystery” did not mesh with the second adventure, and two shorter books would have worked well. I also found that there were some issues with clarity that may cause confusion in the reader (I had difficulty figuring some things out, such as Verity’s family situation, and I’m an adult reader who has read the first book of the series!). Other than this, I think the book would stand up quite well for a new reader to the series.
Despite a few niggles in the storytelling, Verity Sparks, lost and found was still a great book, although it felt much more like a gothic ghost story than the gaslamp fantasy I so enjoyed in The truth about Verity Sparks: a different sub-genre, but an interesting introduction for the age group. It wasn’t quite the standard I had hoped, but Verity is a marvellous character and I enjoyed it a lot.