Book Review | The Message In the Hollow Oak
Title: The Message in the Hollow Oak (Nancy Drew #12) by Carolyn Keene
Genres: Mystery, Children’s
Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap (1972)
Summary: A group of professional detectives challenge Nancy to tackle a mystery that they have failed to solve: find an invaluable message hidden by a missionary centuries ago in a hollow oak tree in Illinois. While searching the woods for the ancient tree, Nancy and her friends live with a group of young archaeologists who are excavating prehistoric Indian burial mounds on a nearby farm. A shadowy enemy stalks Nancy and harasses everyone at the dig. The young investigator pursues her dangerous adversary to an outlaws’ cave, and is threatened when she discovers an unusual treasure. How Nancy, with few clues to go on, solves this complex mystery will thrill all readers.
If you’ve been following my blog or bookstagram for any significant amount of time, then you probably know that I’m a huge Nancy Drew fan. I have been for years! A group of us on Instagram have been going through the Nancy Drew books together and rereading them. Recently we read, The Message in the Hollow Oak. It had been years since I last read it, so I did not remember much. While I did enjoy this one, it was not my favorite.
For this case, Nancy is needed to finish solving a mystery for a group of detectives who went on a mystery-solving retreat that were unable to solve the case in time. Side note: does anyone know if mystery-solving retreats actually exist – and if so, how can I sign up?! That sounds amazing and super fun!
Anyway, the storyline for this particular case was good, but not great. I was engaged throughout the whole story though, and I was very satisfied with the ending! The biggest issue with this book was that a lot of it seemed very simplified. Archeology plays a big role in this case and yet, the archeological digs were greatly brushed over and simplified. I realize this is Nancy Drew and not something more intense and serious, but the topic seemed especially ignored. Likewise, the Native American content seemed iffy at best, in reference to the way their culture was addressed. Also, there were a couple incidents in this novel that just felt random. They were events added to the story for drama but nothing ever became of them and they felt quite unnecessary.
I did quite enjoy the character drama in this one, however. I loved the little bit of the romantic drama/love triangle between Nancy, Ned, and the character, Art. Bess also plays a bit of matchmaker! It was nothing over the top, but it was fun to read about. The Message in the Hollow Oak did a good job at giving all the characters more dimension and personality than some of the other books, which I, personally, really appreciated!
Overall, this wasn’t the best Nancy Drew book I ever read, but I still enjoyed it very much. Nancy Drew books are comfort reads to me and The Message in the Hollow Oak was no different. I would recommend this book to adventurous young boys and girls and Nancy Drew fans.