Review: Northwoods Mysteries

Northwoods Mysteries Series

Upper Middle Grade/Young Adult Mystery

by Margi Preus

Book 1: Enchantment Lake
A disturbing call from her great aunts Astrid and Jeannette sends seventeen-year-old Francie far from her new home in New York into a tangle of mysteries. Ditching an audition in a Manhattan theater, Francie travels to a remote lake in the northwoods where her aunts’ neighbors are “dropping like flies” from strange accidents. But are they accidents?
On the shores of Enchantment Lake in the woods of northern Minnesota, something ominous is afoot, and as Francie begins to investigate, the mysteries multiply: a poisoned hotdish, a puzzling confession, eerie noises in the bog, and a legendary treasure that is said to be under enchantment—or is that under Enchantment, as in under the lake? At the center of everything is a suddenly booming business in cabin sales and a road not everyone wants built.
To a somewhat reluctant northwoods Nancy Drew, the intrigue proves irresistible, especially when it draws her closer to the mysteries at the heart of her own life: What happened to her father? Who and where is her mother? Who is she, and where does her heart lie—in the bustle of New York City or the deep woods of Minnesota? With its gripping story, romantic spirit, and a sly dash of modern-day trouble (evil realtors and other invasive species), Enchantment Lake will fascinate readers, providing precisely the charm that Margi Preus’s readers have come to expect.

Book 2: The Clue in the Trees
Francie’s brother Theo has secrets—secrets Francie thinks she wants to know. But what if one of those secrets is that Theo is a murderer? To avoid considering that possibility, Francie plunges into her senior year at a small-town high school near Enchantment Lake in northern Minnesota. It’s a radical change from her private school in New York, but she hopes to keep an eye on her great aunts and maybe finally learn more about the mother she never knew. A small silver box seems to hold the answers, and she is determined to get her hands on it.
But when her long-lost brother turns up, so does a dead body, and once again Francie is drawn into a mystery. A long list of suspects, with Theo at the top, keeps her head spinning. When Francie herself becomes a suspect she starts to feel like she is walking on thin ice, but it isn’t until she is literally walking on thin ice that the pieces start to come together—and by then it may be too late.
In her previous adventure Enchantment Lake, Francie was thrown into northern Minnesota lake living: fishing, berry picking, lost kayaks and scary boat rides, poisoned hotdishes, exploding bulldozers, a forest fire . . . and murder. But if she thinks things have settled down, she’s in for a surprise. A new school with new friends (and a few enemies), a lead role in a play, an encounter with a giant muskie, archaeological twists, secret tunnels, thin ice, and a strangely sticky murder are all coming her way in The Clue in the Trees.

Book 3: The Silver Box
In the final Enchantment Lake mystery, Francie’s search for the truth about her mother—and herself—plunges her into danger during a North Woods winter.
When she wakes in her aunts’ cold cabin on the shore of Enchantment Lake, Francie remembers: everything about her life has changed. Or is about to. Or just might. Everything depends on the small, engraved silver box that she now possesses—if only she can follow its cryptic clues to the whereabouts of her missing mother and understand, finally, just maybe, the truth about who she really is.
Francie, it turns out, has a lot to learn, and this time the lessons could be deadly. Her search for answers takes her and her best friends Raven and Jay as far afield as an abandoned ranch in Arizona and as close to home as a sketchy plant collector’s conservatory and a musty old museum where shadows lurk around every display case. At the heart of it all is a crime that touches her own adopted North Woods: thieves dig up fragile lady’s slippers, peel bark from birches, strip moss off trees, cut down entire forests of saplings to sell for home décor. But Francie is up against no ordinary plant theft. One ominous clue after another reveal that she possesses something so rare and so valuable that some people are willing to do anything to get it. When Francie’s investigation leads her into the treacherously cold and snowy North Woods, she finds out that she too is being pursued.

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REVIEWS

Book 1: Enchantment Lake
5 out of 5

Enchantment Lake is a great start to a new series. Francie is Nancy Drew for a new generation. Quirky residents, strange happenings, and a greedy real estate developer worthy of a Scooby-Doo episode all populate this story. A great upper middle grade/young adult mystery for anyone who loves a good mystery, that will keep you turning pages. You’ll definitely want to keep reading as not all the side mysteries are solved by the end.

Book 2: The Clue in the Trees
5 out of 5

The Clue in the Trees brings back old characters we love. We’re also introduced to Francie’s brother Theo. A murder mystery with Francie front and center in the spotlight, and other mysteries surrounding her brother are the main driving forces in this second installment. You can read this on its own, but reading book one first will give you a better feel for the characters and how they interact. Although this is written for teens, adults can easily enjoy this series. Recommend for teen mystery lovers and adults who enjoy cozy mysteries.

Book 3: The Silver Box
5 out of 5

The Silver Box is perfect for middle grade mystery lovers and adults who grew up loving Nancy Drew. I loved reading about Nancy’s adventures as a kid, and this brought me back to that time. Although this can be read as a standalone, I definitely recommend reading book one and two first, as they give book three a little more depth. Preus sets a quick pace, but not so fast that you struggle to keep up. You will quickly find yourself eager to solve the mystery with Francie, however, and you won’t want to put this book down once you start.

Enchantment Lake
Amazon | B&N | Goodreads

THE CLUE IN THE TREES
Amazon | B&N | Goodreads

THE SILVER BOX
Amazon | B&N | Goodreads

About the Author

Margi Preus is the author of the Newbery Honor book Heart of a Samurai and other books for young readers, including the Minnesota Book Award winning West of the Moon, and the Midwest Booksellers Choice Award book The Clue in the Trees. Her books have won multiple awards, landed on the New York Times bestseller list, been honored as ALA/ALSC Notables, selected as an NPR Backseat Book Club pick, chosen for community reads, and translated into several languages. New titles in 2020 include Village of Scoundrels, The Littlest Voyageur, and The Silver Box, part of the Enchantment Lake mystery series. 
Back when such things were done, Margi enjoyed traveling, speaking, and visiting schools all over the world. Now mostly at home in Duluth, she likes to ski, hike, canoe, or sit quietly with a book in her lap.  

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Published by liliyanashadowlyn

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