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The Swifts

Book Synopsis

A hilarious new mystery adventure perfect for fans of Robin Stevens and Lemony Snicket.

On the day they are born, each Swift is brought before the sacred Family Dictionary. They are given a name and a definition, and it is assumed they will grow up to match. Unfortunately, Shenanigan Swift has other ideas.

So what if her relatives all think she’s destined to turn out as a troublemaker, just because of her name? Shenanigan knows she can be whatever she wants – pirate, explorer or even detective.

Which is lucky, really, because when one of the Family tries to murder Arch-Aunt Schadenfreude, someone has to work out whodunit.

With the help of her sisters and cousin, Shenanigan grudgingly takes on the case, but more murders, a hidden treasure and an awful lot of suspects make thing seriously complicated.

Can Shenanigan catch the killer before the whole household is picked off? And in a Family where definitions are so important, can she learn to define herself?

Our Review Panel says...

This debut gothic murder mystery novel by Beth Lincoln is zany and eccentric, full of quirky characters and kickback against the status quo! Shenanigan Swift and her two sisters are the youngest generations of the Swift family, whose tradition it is to name each newborn baby by blindly putting a finger on a word in the ancient and hallowed family dictionary (which must only be touched by gloved hands for fear that the pages might get stained!). As the story progresses, Shenanigan questions whether it’s inevitable that her name will define who she is. She undeniably gets into all kinds of scrapes with little regard for the consequence – but is that all down to her name? And can she change her destiny?

This clever theme running through the plot – of whether language defines us – also plays out in the other characters; Erf, Shenanigan’s cousin, has changed her name as she explores her gender, and ‘Cook’ is constantly addressed as a servant when, in fact, ‘Cook’ is just her name.

Teachers should know that, as well as the book having a gothic feel to it, and multiple murders, albeit intended to be comical, the plot pivots around a séance and hearing from the dead which some children and parents might find unsettling. It also explores gender and sexuality issues through some of the characters.

The book is full of ambitious language (the dictionary, after all, being one of its major characters!), which some children might enjoy, and others find challenging. The use of words to create pictures, too, is creative and funny at times – I particularly liked the description of one mistrusted family member as ‘like a bouquet of flowers with a crowbar in the middle’!

The Swifts: KS2 Resource Pack

A resource pack provided by the publisher to accompany the book The Swifts.

The Swifts

the swifts

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