The Riddles of Epsilon – Christine Morton-Shaw

  children’s books have become undeniably more sophisticated of late and this can only be a good thing, not only for the young of age but also of the young of mind who still enjoy dabbling in the genre of adolescent people’s literature.

I can’t quite remember how I came across Christine Morton-Shaw’s debut novel, The Riddles of Epsilon, but I’m glad I did as it has all the classic ingredients that still retain an air of excitement no matter your age.

Jess is not pleased when her parents drag her off to live on the weird little island of Lume. But then she encounters and eerie presence in an abandoned cottage, and her anger turns to fear when it begins to lead her through a series of creepy riddles.

So far so good then, we have mysterious happenings on an island which is classic children’s fare, but what separates it out from other books is the sheer scale of the mini mysteries that are posed throughout the text. For each question answered another two or three pop up to take its place, meaning that there is always plenty of scope for speculation on possible plot twists.

To begin with, we have our main protagonist Jess, a lonely child new to the isle of Lume, because she spends much of the time on her own she is instantly identifiable to the reader, who is taking part in said pursuit by themselves. That singular connection, coupled with some of the riddles that can be worked out by the reader if he or she chooses, or if you lack the capacity to put the book down can leave it to Jess to do all the graft, make the book a more intimate affair.

You’ll probably appreciate that this is one of those books where a reviewer has to be, or should be, at any rate cagey in talking to much about the actual plot for fear of giving something away.  The joy of this book is comes from being  dragged around by the throat at frenetic pace as lots of conundrums are posed and solved to form a rich tapestry of atmospheric mystery.

Rather than delve into this fertile source of pleasure anymore, in a way that may be detrimental to any potential readers I’ll finish up by (happily) stating that if you have any interest at all in; an island to be explored, colourful characters, maps, riddles and that sense of the solitary which you share with Jess, then this book is well worth a read.

Why this isn’t a more well known book I shall never know, it has enough depth and length, as well as being well written and extremely easy to get lost in to put it up there with the giants of today’s YA literature.  So here starts the campaign to get the word (belatedly) out.


23 Replies to “The Riddles of Epsilon – Christine Morton-Shaw”

    1. Yay! There is a lot of stuff going on in i. There are (if memory serves me correctly) usually between four and six questions needing to be answered at any one time so it keeps its hooks in you that way. I shall do some more YA in the near future, just for you.


    1. It is indeed that same Mansfield, with probably all the same dodgy features you remember lol. Thanks for the Facebook plug, it is very much appreciated.


      1. Thanks for liking my FB pages. I was one and a half years old when my parents moved me down to Devon so I don’t remember it. Have you got any pets?


        1. For some reason the link on you site had passed me by before. I am not the most observant of chaps, unless it is written down in a book of course. Glad to be lending support. I don’t have any pets but if I did I would like a dog and I always think naming it ‘Monk’ would be amusing. I think you are best out of Mansfield, highest rate of unemployment in Nottinghamshire and apparently one of the worst places to live in England.


            1. I was aware of it but never watched it, not sure what inspired me to name my future dog Monk, I think something along the lines of it being a tad novel, which is handy for a bookish person.


  1. I feel like this one has passed my shelf before, and that I too enjoyed it….don’t you hate it when you get so old that you can’t remember whether you’ve read a book just by its title? Ah, first world problems.


    1. It is a nightmare, it’s up there with going into a shop seeing a book you may not have and having to ring home to find out if it is on your shelf, but then having to remember where it is and give directions as there are so many books everywhere. Sometimes life is just to complicated.


  2. Is this better than blyton books? Mayb better for those slightly older than blyton books r aimed at. shame you can’t do a star rating (except for saying 4/5 or whatever).


    1. I would spend way to much time deliberating on the marks to give and would be endlessly revising them as I read more and judge them in the context of where they stand, for me in the genre. The Blyton books are a lot less sophisticated, the puzzles are usually fairly obvious and sparse but here they are everywhere constantly and that really is a good thing.


  3. Thanks Ste J, I’ll buy. My biggest problem with reading a really good book is that it is over too soon, for awhile I looked for very thick books and then decided if it would be a good read (I know really sad – but once I’m lost in a good read I want to stay there for awhile – even all night – I know even sadder). I tend not to qualify by age ratings for a variety of reasons – to me something well written is still something to be read regardless of who the prospective market may be. So now I’ll leave quietly as always, it’s tempting, but no I’ll go! lol


    1. I used to do the same, more pages and more content means a better book experience. How foolish I was in my formative years. Age ratings work for me because I just get worried people will dismiss the book for being YA, but hopefully my enthusiasm helps carry it too. On that note I think I will start a fairly short book but one I know will be a treat, David Golder by Irene Nemirovsky, my favourite author with oestrogen!


  4. I’ve read this! A book we’ve both actually read! I really liked it, although as I read it a couple of years ago I don’t quite remember all the details… but I know it’s good!


    1. A miracle, us both having read a book, miracles do happen at Christmas it seems. All the classics we’ve read between us and we bond over a children’s book, typical, lol.


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