Verity Sparks and the Scarlet Hand by Susan Green

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Walker Books, 2015. ISBN 9781922244895
(Age: 9-12) Recommended for those who like a Magical Mystery. Themes: Mystery; Family; Adventure; Paranormal. This is the third in the series involving the young girl Verity Sparks, and it is possible to read it as a stand-alone book (although I suspect that some of the relationship history would have made more sense if the previous two books had been read.) Verity comes from an unusual background (undoubtedly revealed in earlier books) and her family seems to have been created by linking those in need of love. Set in Castlemaine in 1880, it has a lovely old-fashioned feel, and is filled with characters with unusual histories, laced with tragedy, from places far and wide.
Verity Sparks has a prophetic gift that enables her to see and solve mysteries by touching items that trigger connections, allowing her hallucinations to reveal the past or the future, and then to connect these visions to present day problems. This unusual gift is put to good use in solving a mystery of a shadowy woman, whose appearance creates confusion and also to unravel a kidnapping.
This book reads like a young person's detective mystery (with a magical dose of prophetic inspiration). Readers who have begun the series will no doubt be delighted that Verity has returned.
Carolyn Hull