Title: The Invasion of Crooked Oak (The Crooked Oak Mysteries #1)
Author: Dan Smith
Illustrator: Chris king
Publisher: Barrington Stoke
Genre: Older children’s/middle grade fiction, Mystery
Book format: Digital
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Description: Ever since the fracking site closed, Nancy’s parents have been acting weird. Their eyes are blank, they won’t eat – it’s like they’re no longer themselves. And now the symptoms are affecting others as well … Nancy and her friends Pete and Krish are determined to find out what’s going on. But the deeper they dig, the scarier the mystery gets. A dark presence is spreading its tendrils across Crooked Oak. Can they stop it before it takes over the whole town?

*Free copy provided by pulisher for review…

Review:  Best friends Pete and Krish enjoy spending their lunchtime at school, looking up mysterious and weird happenings on their favourite website. But when Nancy, their friend, sits down and tells them about her parents, it seems something weird might be happening in their own small town of Crooked Oak. Soon Pete and the others start noticing the adults of the town acting strange, hiding in the shadows and a strange smell accompanying them. But what could be wrong with the adults, and does an old abandoned fracking site have anything to do with it?

The Invasion of Crooked Oak book page illustration one
© Chris King

This is such a brilliant story and sucked me in from the start. When the three friends notice the adults acting strange in the town they decide to investigate, and follow some of the adults to see where they go. I love what happens in this story, the way the adults all appear to be acting and the reactions they have and the blank ways they respond and talk. As the three investigate further they end up discovering what is really causing the adults in the town to act the way that they are, but I love how this isn’t the end of the story and what happens next is so dramatic and exciting!

The story has a good ending, and the tale over all is such a fun read! I couldn’t help but get slight Scooby Doo vibes from the teens all investigating what’s happening, with the illustrations adding to this feeling, although more than anything this just felt like a brilliant story and a gripping and eerie read. There’s a moment near the end, involving something that Pete sees, that is so weird and creepy and I just love how I felt when finishing this book as well the chill I got from reading this particular part! The ending is a good one and satisfying. I like how everything is resolved and ends well, though it leaves a possible opening for future books and now I know there’s a sequel already out, ‘The Beast of Harwood Forest’, and I can’t wait to see what happens in that one!

The illustrations are really great. I love the way they look, how they show what’s happening well, but at the same time having a slight comic book vibe to them. The illustrations are all in black, white and grey and appear on several pages throughout the book. They really do add to the story, especially when you see what is causing all the weird behaviour in town and how tense things get for the kids towards the end. I love how easy to read this book is and it’s because the books are designed with dyslexia-friendly features in mind. Because it’s a Barrington Stoke book the letters are specially easy to read, using a special font that makes it easier for those with dyslexia. The paragraphs are all spaced out too making the whole reading experience much easier for both dyslexics and reluctant readers, and to be honest anyone who like me, finds reading sometimes strains your eyes! I’ve had a digital copy of the book to read but the physical copy may also have paper that makes it easier on the eyes to read too.

The Invasion of Crooked Oak book page illustration two
© Chris King

This really is a fun and eerie read and one I’d recommend to anyone who loves a great mystery and likes stories that feature strange and weird (not so normal) things happening. The book is so quick and easy to read and makes a great start to what I hope will be great series of books featuring the three friends. I can’t wait to see what happens in the next book and would recommend this one to anyone as a great standalone!

What do you think of this book?  Do you like stories featuring eerie happeings or mysteries?  Let me know what you think in the comments below 🙂