Review Blog

Dec 06 2017

The Doldrums and the Helmsley Curse by Nicholas Gannon

cover image

Greenwillow, 2017. ISBN 9780062320971
(Age: 9-12) Themes: Good and Evil, Adventure stories, Friendship. Nicholas Gannon's beautifully crafted sequel The Doldrums and the Helmsley Curse brings Archer's infamous explorer grandparents' home after a lengthy and mysterious disappearance. Their return causes much controversy in Rosewood with the Chronicle newspaper printing false accusations about them orchestrating their iceberg shipwreck and supposedly cursing the city with Arctic weather. With the help of his close friends, Oliver and Adelaide, Archer sets out to find out the truth because family loyalty and honour are worth fighting for.
Grandma and Grandpa Helmsley are summoned to a grand banquet and to give an account of their actions to the members of the Society. Archie, Oliver and Adelaide use their time to explore the rooms in the huge building, uncovering more secret plots and learning of the Society's President Herbert Birthwhistle's plans to destroy the Helmsley's reputations. While Oliver's father continues to print the truth in The Doldrums Press, townsfolk aren't convinced and set out to banish the explorers.
The three friends learn to rely on each other as the creatively plan to unravel the mystery, outwit unscrupulous villains and narrowly escape from some dangerous situations. Visits to the delicious Duttonlick's Sweetshop, creating special chocolates with behaviour altering Doxical Powder makes for a funny party scene. Adelaide's wooden leg does little to hinder her full engagement with the activities and the addition of a new friend Kana further assists their plans. As the blizzard worsens and Christmas approaches, Archer's determination to help his grandparents heightens the excitement. Their derring-do capers include the use of a ham-radio, a crazy ride in a three-wheeled van and the judicious use of a dumbwaiter.
Nick Gannon's architectural drawings, stylised colour illustrations, black and white spot sketches add definition to the literary text. The Doldrums and the Helmsley Curse presents a new world, brimming with charm, relatable characters, with plenty of action and intrigue, perfect for confident readers.
Rhyllis Bignell

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