“New Friends, New Adventure, New Mystery!
Ayesha, Sara, and Jess are back in an exciting new adventure, and this time they’re off to Spain! When a fellow passenger’s beloved grandpa strangely disappears, Ayesha and her friends gladly join in the search for the missing person. But as Ayesha delves further into the mystery, the more sinister the stakes become! Ayesha finds a link between the missing person and a seventeenth century diary that contains clues to an ancient mystery. However, each step closer to discovery seems to pose greater chances of peril. Can Ayesha uncover the truth without putting herself and her friends in mortal danger?”
Some of my earliest reading memories surround books like Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys. They leave such a potent nostalgia in me and I’m not sure if that’s where my love of reading started but it definitely played a HUGE role. When I was young I would do my best to collect as many books from both series as I could, and my younger brother and I formed a type of comradery while sharing their stories.
I haven’t picked up a Nancy Drew (or Hardy Boys) mystery in years. However, all of the nostalgia associated with Nancy and her crew came rushing at me with Ayesha Dean – The Seville Secret.
The Seville Secret is the 2nd book in the Ayesha Dean series, yet you don’t have to read the first book to enjoy this one. This sweet, mysterious, and refreshing read stands alone.
I actually started reading The Seville Secret with my 9-year-old sister and besides the fact that I enjoyed it, I loved seeing her enjoyment of it as well. The language is simple and perfect for the middle-grade readers that it’s aimed for but the story is truly adept at pulling in readers of all ages.
I was absolutely delighted by all of the parallels between Nancy and Ayesha and I was reminded all over again just how much I enjoyed reading a good mystery. If you’ve read Nancy Drew you can see how both Nancy and Ayesha have a token male parental figure who worries for their loved one but doesn’t discourage their independence. There are also the two friends, one who is athletic and one who is more dainty. Then there is the sweet and innocent love interest that doesn’t pull away from the story, is a true gentleman, and that doesn’t venture into any cheeky places.
Ayesha Dean is literally the Muslim Nancy Drew that I needed as an 11-year-old looking for characters like me.
The Seville Secret is well written and the author, Melati Lum, is truly skilled at including the Moorish history of Spain, Spanish culture, and Islamic representation. The story is rich with beautiful imagery and history. I honestly couldn’t help but to close my eyes and imagine some of the descriptions of flowers and nature and make myself hungry thinking about some of the food that was being eaten. I’m not an artist but I swear I thought I could draw a version of the missing necklace that is the center of the story.
There’s also a part where Ayesha is not able to make wudhuu with water and Lum incorporates her doing tayammum and I was too geeeeked! Ayesha regularly praises Allah and is unapologetically Muslim. One thing that brings me enjoyment is that none of the plot surrounds Ayesha struggling with being a Muslim. She’s completely confident in who she is, what she practices, and how she lives. As marginalized people, it’s expected that our art and literature reflect the struggle we go through, but sometimes it’s refreshing to have a story where the character is just who he/she is.
The Seville Secret was honestly an enjoyable read and The Ayesha Dean series is definitely something I would like to have on the shelf for not only my own enjoyment but my middle-grade siblings and future children.
***To read about more of Ayesha Dean and support Muslim mysteries, click here!***
Thank You to Melati Lum for providing me with this arc for an honest review.