Two years ago I reviewed The Mystery of Tully Hall by Zöe Billings. This was followed up by the second book last year – The Secret of Flittermouse Cliffs. My first and only reading of this one (so far) was when I proof read it for Zoe, but I do have it in paperback now as well.
With the release of Flittermouse Cliffs, Tully Hall becomes book one of a series – the Great Friends from Grey Owls series. It features the same children but in a new location.
While the first book was set in Wales, this time the group are off to Northumberland on a school trip to an outward bound centre.
As its a school trip the whole class is going, along with some teachers, and then of course there are the centre’s instructors. You’re thinking that surely the Grey Owls friends can’t get in all that much trouble with that many people around? Well, yes, they can!
It all begins as they do some climbing and abseiling of the Flittermouse Cliffs of the title. The centre instructors – David and Morton (not an intentional Lone Pine series reference – that was about the first thing I asked!) – explain that flittermice are bats and the cliffs used to be home to a massive bat colony. There are still some bats around but nowhere near as many.
On his abseil back down Barrie notices some bolts in the rocks – an old route down that passed near where some bats started roosting, so it was no longer useable. And yet, there is a shiny new carabiner hanging from one of the bolts…
The mystery deepens
As with the previous book modern technology and particularly mobile phones are cleverly woven into the story without taking over. Although the kids message each other, and phones end up being vital to solving the mystery they are not in constant use – and there’s absolutely no Tik Tok or Instagram!
In fact, as the class are off doing a lot of physical activity the class are supposed to all leave their phones in the accommodation block. Barrie misses hearing about this rule on the first day and brings his phone to the cliffs where Morton puts it in his backpack for safe keeping.
That evening Barrie wants to retrieve his phone but David tells him that Morton has gone off to visit his sick grandmother. Yet when James tracks Barrie’s phone’s location it is back at Flittermouse Cliffs – and it’s moving…
In between taking part in archery, dam building, rafting and all sorts of other outdoor activities the kids keep an eye on Morton and try to figure out what is going on. He seems such a nice, genuine person, so why is he lying about what he’s doing in the evenings?
It all comes to a head when the children plant Barrie’s phone back in the backpack and head off for a late-night adventure to the cliffs, though they are nearly undone by a troll.
Not that kind of troll
Going back to the opening chapters of the book, the kids are still at Grey Owls and discover some nasty messages left on the school website about themselves, and particularly Liz. It’s not hard for them to work out who it is and although the school get involved the culprit is still allowed on the school trip where they show their obvious distain for the group. In fact they probably dislike them even more for catching them and getting them into trouble.
That means that the group are not just trying to keep their investigations secret from the adults, but also from the prying eyes of the troll who would just love to catch them doing something they shouldn’t. With that in mind the troll follows them to the cliffs on the final night of their investigations and nearly messes everything up for them. All I can say is that the friends are far more understanding than I would have been!
I enjoyed this sub-plot as trolling and online bullying are experienced by so many children these days and it fitted in very well as a background to the main story.
This was a great second installment in the series, showing that the friends can find mystery and adventure wherever they go!