Category Archives: Daly, Elizabeth

2022: Books 7, 10 & 11 – Unexpected Night, The Dark Is Rising & The Wee Free Men

This is just going to be a quick multi-book catch-up post! I didn’t have enough to say about these books to warrant a full review, but I don’t want to forget about them, either.

Unexpected NightUnexpected Night
by Elizabeth Daly
Rating: ★★★★
Series: Henry Gamadge #1
Publication Date: January 1, 1940
Genre: mystery
Pages: 216
ReRead?: No
Project: American mystery classics

The discovery of young Amberly Cowden's body at the base of a cliff, as well as the strange events apparently related to the impoverished acting troupe at the Cove, disrupt Gamage's restful golf retreat.

This is the first book in the Henry Gamadge series by Elizabeth Daly. I stumbled on the series last year and enjoyed the one I checked out. I put the first book on held. This is a pretty clever little mystery from the golden age, by an American author.

The Dark Is RisingThe Dark Is Rising
by Susan Cooper
Rating: ★★★★★
Series: The Dark is Rising #2
Publication Date: January 1, 1973
Genre: fantasy, YA
Pages: 244
ReRead?: Yes
Project: Mt. TBR 2022

On Midwinter Day and his eleventh birthday, Will Stanton discovers he is the last of immortal Old Ones dedicated to keeping the world from domination by the forces of evil, the Dark. He must find six magical Signs for the final battle.

I pulled this off the TBR cart to follow Over Sea, Under Stone, which I read earlier this month. I plan to complete the series this year – I have previously read the first three, and this is my favorite of them. I really like this book, and had forgotten that it was set over Christmas/Epiphany, so it was really perfect for this time of year.

The Wee Free MenThe Wee Free Men
by Terry Pratchett
Rating: ★★★½
Series: Discworld #30
Publication Date: October 6, 2009
Genre: fantasy, YA
Pages: 404
ReRead?: No

Nine-year-old Tiffany Aching needs magic--fast! Her sticky little brother Wentworth has been spirited away by the evil Queen of Faerie, and it's up to her to get him back safely. Having already decided to grow up to be a witch, now all Tiffany has to do is find her power. But she quickly learns that it's not all black cats and broomsticks. According to her witchy mentor Miss Tick, "Witches don't use magic unless they really have to...We do other things. A witch pays attention to everything that's going on...A witch uses her head...A witch always has a piece of string!" Luckily, besides her trusty string, Tiffany's also got the Nac Mac Feegles, or the Wee Free Men on her side. Small, blue, and heavily tattooed, the Feegles love nothing more than a good fight except maybe a drop of strong drink! Tiffany, heavily armed with an iron skillet, the feisty Feegles, and a talking toad on loan from Miss Tick, is a formidable adversary. But the Queen has a few tricks of her own, most of them deadly. Tiffany and the Feegles might get more than they bargained for on the flip side of Faerie! Prolific fantasy author Terry Pratchett has served up another delicious helping of his famed Discworld fare.

I initially gave this four stars, but on reflection, it’s probably 3 1/2. I know that there are a lot of Terry Pratchett super-fans out there, but I am apparently not one of them. I liked this book, but I didn’t love it. While I very much enjoyed Tiffany Aching and thought that the pictsies were a hoot, the last section of the book, set in Fairyland, just didn’t click with me at all. I didn’t get it. I own the whole Tiffany Aching subseries, and I’ll probably read it, but I have come to the conclusion that a lot of the signature Pratchett elements just don’t work for me.

Nothing Can Rescue Me by Elizabeth Daly

Nothing Can Rescue MeNothing Can Rescue Me
by Elizabeth Daly
Rating: ★★★★
Series: Henry Gamadge #5
Publication Date: December 15, 1943
Genre: mystery
Pages: 201
Project: a century of women

In mid-1943, and up to his elbows in war work, Henry Gamadge is longing for a quiet weekend. But when a half-forgotten classmate requests assistance, Gamadge is unable to refuse the tug of an old school tie. The problem, says Sylvanus, concerns his Aunt Florence—a giddy socialite terrified of Nazi bombs. Florence has moved her extensive household of hangers-on to the family mansion in upstate New York. But menace seems to have followed them, in the form of threatening messages inserted into the manuscript of Florence’s painfully bad novel in progress. Several members of the household are convinced the messages are emanating from Another World, but the politely pragmatic Gamadge suspects a culprit closer to home.

I stumbled across these Henry Gamadge mystery reissues by Elizabeth Daly on Goodreads, and when I started researching them, I realized that my local library has most, if not all, of the series available for digital checkout. I just picked one sort of randomly – about half of them were available and the other half had holds, so I just went with one that I could download immediately.

I really enjoyed this book – it reminded me a bit of a Patricia Wentworth Miss Silver mystery. The set up of the mystery is basically that Henry Gamadge, who is apparently known as a bit of an amateur sleuth, runs into an old friend while he is out at his club. When they begin catching up, the friend, Sylvanus, convinces him that there is a mystery afoot that he needs some help with. Henry agrees to accompany him to Underhill, a country house in upstate New York, to see what he can find out.

Once Henry arrives, he is immediately concerned about the safety of Aunt Florence, whose death will benefit quite a large number of the young people living in her house. It feels very Poirot-like, all of the mutterings about what appear at first blush to be pranks being much more serious than that (see, e.g., Hickory Dickory Dock). There is a lot of activity around Aunt Florence’s Will, and which of her young hangers-on will be receiving legacies, and which will not.

The solution itself is convoluted, but still clever. There’s a lot of fairly skilled misdirection, although I had some pretty good inklings about whodunit, she did a good job concealing the motive.

It’s always fantastic to find a new vintage mystery series to enjoy, and when the series is also available from my local library for free, that is extra-fantastic. I will definitely be reading more from Elizabeth Daly.