Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Book Review: Friday's Tunnel by John Verney (1959)

Friday's Tunnel is a children's novel originally published by English writer John Verney in 1959, which has been reissued by Paul Dry Books. (I'm grateful to have received a review copy!) February and Friday Callendar are sister and brother and they have just returned home for the summer holidays. Shortly after their arrival, their father, a well-known and much-respected newspaper reporter, announces that he will need to journey to the nation of Capria to report on an emerging crisis for the paper. When it becomes clear that he never makes it to Capria, however, February and her brother begin to investigate exactly what is going on in Capria and where their father might really be.

I really enjoyed this book. February has a great narrative voice, and she kept me interested in the plot even when I wasn't always completely invested in all the political intrigue. She struck me as a precursor to a character like Ruby Redford. The family itself reminded me a bit of other favorite vintage kidlit families: Hilda van Stockum's Mitchells, Madeleine L'Engle's Austins, and Geoffrey Trease's Melburys (from No Boats on Bannermere and its sequels), but with an added layer of Cold War era suspicion and suspense. I also found myself comparing this book to Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys books, as February is resourceful in the same way as those characters, and they have a similar light tone and straightforward writing style.

Though some of the government issues and political problems felt a bit confusing at times (especially since Capria is an invented country), overall, it was fun trying to piece together the clues (many of which February discerns by reading a comic strip) and to guess what was going to happen from chapter to chapter. Next, I'm looking forward to reading February's Road, the second book of this series, of which I also received a review copy.

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