Violet and the Hidden Treasure
By Harriet Whitehorn
Published by Simon and Schuster
ISBN 978 1 4711 2262 0
It’s a real pleasure to find 11-year-old Violet Remy-Robinson amongst all the dark, apocalyptic novels on YA shelves. Gutsy, determined and a female Sherlock Holmes in the making, Violet is a fantastic heroine for younger readers who just want a good story and absorbing characters.
Her first adventure, Violet and the Pearl of the Orient, was published in 2014, and received glowing reviews. Now Violet is back on the trail of another master criminal. But the prize is much bigger than a mere pearl this time round: it’s a whole hoard of buried treasure.
Violet never really sets out to pull a Poirot. She is just a kid who cares, and wants to do the right thing. But somehow, she seems to come into contact with wrongdoers, which is when her instinctive detection skills come into their own.
At the start of Harriet Whitehorn’s Violet and the Hidden Treasure, our heroine has just returned from an amazing visit to India in the company of Celeste, her godmother, a professional animal photographer. Celeste knows people in high places, so during the trip, she took her goddaughter to a lavish New Year’s Eve party at the palace of the mega-rich Maharajah of Bochir.
The old maharajah’s constant companion is a colourful cockatoo called the Maharani. At the party, Violet also meets Rajesh, the maharajah’s faithful servant, and Angel, his quite unpleasant niece. Violet has no clue that these people are going to reappear in her life very soon after she gets home.
Back in London, Rajesh unexpectedly turns up on Violet’s doorstep and thrusts the Maharani into her arms, asking her to look after it. He tells her the Maharajah has died, and that there are problems over his will. The cockatoo is in danger because she holds the key to the whereabouts of the Maharajah’s treasure. Then Rajesh runs off.
There is, of course, an intriguing mystery at the centre of this story, but there is also a cast of interesting eccentric characters. Becka Moor’s clever and highly amusing character illustrations help the story come to life, but it’s writer-to-watch Whitehorn’s lightness of touch and sense of adventure that turn The Hidden Treasure from “just another book” into an extra-special treat.
Can Violet catch the villain when the Maharani is parrot-napped? And how can a cockatoo possibly know where a vast treasure is hidden?
While this is definitely geared towards pre-teens, there’s enough excitement here to satisfy readers of all ages. Violet’s next adventure, Violet and the Smugglers, is due out next month. If it’s as good as this one, fans won’t be disappointed.
John Millen can be contacted on