06 February 2021

Enid Blyton and the "Famous Five"

Five Go to Demon's Rock (The Famous Five, #19)

Five Go to Demon's Rock by Enid Blyton
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This book has all the usual Enid Blyton trade marks -- a superfluity of exclamation marks, stilted and unconvincing dialogue, and an adventure that doesn't begin until two-thirds of the way through the book. It also, however, has a weak and unconvincing plot.

So why did I buy it and read it?

We went to the library last Tuesday and it was closed -- a member of staff had tested positive for Covid-19, so all the rest of the staff were in quarantine. So we went to a second-hand bookshop to get something to read. I found  a few books, and then asked for their children's book section, but they only pointed me to a teenage books section. Then when I was paying for the other books, I saw this one in a pile on the counter, and picked it up. The woman in front of me in the queue said, "Ah, Enid Blyton, the Famous Five and the Secret Seven" and that started a conversation with a couple of staff members as well, who also recalled the Famous Five and the Secret Seven.

And I wondered about that. As a child, I read and enjoyed some books by Enid Blyton, but the Famous Five and the Secret Seven were not among them. I had read one or two Famous Five books and found them boring and unmemorable, and did not read any more. Now, as an adult, I bought this book mainly to see what the appeal was. And this one had all the faults of Enif Blyton's writing with none of the good points of her better children's adventure stories, like The Secret of Kilimooin and The Mountain of Adventure.

Arthur Ransome wrote some children's stories where the "adventure" was simply going and camping out on their own, so the adventure in this case, the children's encounter with some criminals, need not necessarily be the main part of the story, but even the camping part Arthur Ransome wrote so much better. He even, sometimes, included encounters with criminals, for example in The Big Six. But in this one the story was weak, and I didn't much like the characters either.

I bought this one, therefore, partly to see why I hadn't much liked the Famous Five as a child, and to see why the Famous Five were the first thing most people thought of if you mentioned Enid Blyton, or even children's adventure stories in general. And this one was a long way from being among the best of children's adventure stories, and also a long way from being among the best of Enid Blyton's ones.

The other reason for reading this one now is that I wrote a children's adventure story, which some reviewers compared with the Famous Five, and I rather hope that mine was a bit better than this one. 

View all my reviews

No comments:


Related Posts with Thumbnails