Title: The Adventurous Four Again
Author: Enid Blyton
Age Rating: 8+
Star Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Following up my previous review on Enid Blyton’s excellent ‘The Adventurous Four’ here are my thoughts on the sequel. Because what could be better than a holiday on the same quiet, Scottish Coast with the same, familiar and daring characters as featured in the preceding title?! And this time, Andy has a new boat, and the children are all set for a short holiday on the Cliff of Birds!
“There are thousands of birds there – I couldn’t tell you how many – all kinds! Gulls, shags, cormorants, puffins – they nest there and all round and about – on the cliffs in the cliffs, over the cliffs – everywhere. They say you can’t walk a step this season of the year without treading on a nesting bird. They’re a sight to see.”
Indeed it is! The Cliff of Birds is a spectacular place, rather similar to some of the descriptions of the islands in ‘The Sea of Adventure’.
Birds, birds, birds! On every ledge they stood or squatted, thousands of white gannets, myriads of the browner guillemots, and a mixture of other seabirds that the boys could hardly make out.
One of the very strong elements about this book is the description. Anyway, the children are thrilled with the Cliff of Birds and eager to explore it’s neighbouring island – Smugglers Rock. But before the children have had chance to make a thorough and satisfactory investigation of the Cliffside, they are stricken by the unexpected appearance of a rather forbidding-looking man. In order to avoid him (he didn’t exactly look a sociable person, apparently) the children hide in a Cave. The man is later distinguised by his hairy legs after sitting on the cave-roof, clearly enabling the children to see only his legs. The children become more certain about their wariness when the man begins to deliberately throw several bird’s eggs down the cliffside. When at last the hairy-legged man vanishes (presumably along a ledge and ‘through a nearby waterfall’) the children resume their search whilst Tom takes photographs of the birds. His curiosity about where the man disappeared to is clearly indicated, however, and as soon as the others are out of sight (leaving his camera behind – echoing his antics from the previous book) he advances the waterfall… Andy had speculated earlier on that when the current of the water weakened, it would be possible to get through without getting washed off the ledge!
Placing his trust in this theory, when the waterfall’s current lessened, Tom made his way past… He then discovers a hole in the cliff where the water clearly comes from, and clambers through. It is then that some baffling discoveries are unearthed…
First Tom finds a Red Pearl Shirt button (not referred back to at all until the very end of the book), and a Store-Cave occupied by two men. One, with the familiar hairy-legs – his other major features being his flaming red beard and his stumpy body (he is evidently nick-named Stumpy). The other man appears to be a fisherman, apart from one deluding aspect: the fact that he is wearing glasses – an uncommon feature for a fisherman, apparently. Anyway, Tom is later discovered and escapes by by dropping into a very fast flowing underground river, finally reuniting with the others – but without his camera!! Again!!
The children sensibly decide that it is time to go home because surely there is something sinister going on here… ? But no… more trouble awaits! The men had alerted the colleges and a large motor boat blocks the children’s route. And so Andy has to adjust their route and the children head for the neighbouring island they were so interested in earlier: Smuggler’s Rock. On arrival: they are just in time to see some strange flashing lights appearing from the very top of the island! Jill and Mary go to sleep in the cabin whilst the boys take it in turns to be on ‘look-out’ on the boat (though one does wonder what they would have attempted to do if the enemies had emerged…?) Anyway the enemies don’t show up but by the morning, fresh worries descend onto the children’s minds. What if the men come along and decide to scuttle the boat? And so the boat is unloaded – into a small cave on Smugglers Rock. And then the enemies do appear. And they want the children out of their cave. Without result they decide to smoke Andy, Tom, Jill and Mary out of their new home (quite a terrifying element of an Enid Blyton book!) and sadly, the children have to surrender and abandon their cave… Then they are blindfolded and taken off to a Cave, where the men keep them whilst search parties scour the coast for them.
It is at this point I was starting to think that the children hadn’t been very clever this time. Fair enough: they couldn’t have avoided the unexpected issue of being captured by these men on a perfectly innocent excursion to some local islands: but no brainwaves had been had time (but in the last book, there were several very clever plans undertaken by the children) but, then the children do think of something clever. The enemies lair was obviously situated very near to where the children were taken off, blindfolded, and perhaps to get a better idea of what the men were up to, it would be wise to go there and explore.
And so in preparation for their next trip to the prison-cave, the children collect handfuls of tiny shells to leave a trail to the secret lair… And they make some breath-taking discoveries!
This book is perhaps underrated in my star-rating, but for me it wasn’t as ‘Wow!’ as it’s prequel, but still a very good read!
No Audio Book Review yet, unfortunately. I haven’t had chance to listen to it yet, but will definitely make time later this week. I’ve also just bought a cassette which is a dramatized version of ‘Hercule Poirot’s Christmas’ which I will be reviewing in the upcoming weeks.