Is it totally unfair to say that Enid Blyton’s books are fairly interchangeable with each other? Well, yes it is, but that doesn’t stop the majority of her work being thoroughly enjoyable and decent reads in their own right.
Such is the case with The Treasure Hunters, a standalone story published in 1940 that bears the bog-standard Blyton-treasure-plot of a handful of children, John, Jeremy and Susan, setting out to discover lost treasure before their beloved Greylings Manor is sold on to the nasty Mr Potts. Even with its well-tread plot, The Treasure Hunters is still one of the more enjoyable standalone books in Blyton’s bibliography.
The book has some marvellous pacing that keeps the reader interested and rarely lags in its story-telling. The core trio of characters are enjoyable as well – John and Jeremy come across as being two sides of the same coin, but Susan is a hoot. She radiates the strong-willed nature of George with the demure sweetness of Anne.
The supporting cast of adults round off the adventure nicely – Mr Potts constantly popping up unexpectedly as the children hunt for the treasure and the grandparents offering additional tension towards the end when the refuse to let the children complete their hunting.
The scenery depicted throughout the book is another feather in its cap. While Blyton was hardly the most descriptive of writers, the locations she evokes are all wonderfully film-worthy. The woodland, the river, the secret house are all laid out in their bare forms that allow the reader to fully visualize how they might want these places to look.
The plot itself offers enough twists and turns, much like the river the children hunt alongside, to reward multiple readings. As the plot thickens, so to do the locations – the three children, and Rags the dog, continually become entrenched in soggy marshes, brittle woods and claustrophobic underground passages.
The climax is, ultimately, something of an anti-climax. Its not quite as action based as other Blyton books, relying on the children racing back home (or at least the Timble’s farm) before Mr Potts can ruin their adventure. But there’s still some build-up of suspense, which lies in whether or not the grandparents will believe the children’s version of the story or Mr Potts’ version. Having been scolded by their grandparents earlier, it becomes easy for the reader to cast doubt as to whether or not the grandparents will side with the children.
My copy, a 1983 Armada paperback, features some lovely illustrations by Barbara C. Freeman which do much to bring the characters and locations alive. I recall having this copy on my bookshelf for years, but sadly it was one of those Blyton books that I never got round to reading during my initial Blyton phase. I finally gave the book a go last year, and I wasn’t disappointed – the search for the treasure across the winding river is a particular favourite scene of mine, just for the scenery it evokes.
Overall, The Treasure Hunters is a corker of a Blyton book – fabulously paced, strong characters, and an engaging story. Well worth a read!