The Secret DMS Files of Fairday Morrow, by Jessica Haight and Stephanie Robinson

fairday morrowMMGM is a weekly meme hosted by middle grade author, Shannon Messenger.

This is a fun chance for me to review a book that hasn’t been published yet. Jessica Haight and Stephanie Robinson run a popular blog that goes by the same name as their book. After keeping in touch for a year or so, I decided to read The Secret DMS Files of Fairday Marrow over Spring Break. I rarely volunteer for something like this with friends, virtual or not, because of the high pressure to give a good review, but I was curious. And I’ve been impressed by the creativity and professional quality of their blog, so I took a chance. I figured I didn’t have to post my review if I didn’t like the book.

I’m posting.  🙂

Jessica and Stephanie have written a really fun middle grade mystery. Honestly, the story didn’t draw me in until I was about one third of the way through. The prose reads clearly and precisely, but it feels just a little plain. For example, “Fairday was ecstatic that they were having chicken cordon bleu for dinner.” There are lots of other ways to communicate that excitement aside from narration. It’s also a little heavy on the adverbs, and the dialogue doesn’t have the snappy drive of an experienced writer. At the risk of sounding snobbish (I really don’t mean to!), reading this one reminded me very much of when I reread my own first novel several years after writing it.

**Note: After sending this review to the authors, they mentioned that they were in the midst of a revision with dialogue and adverbs among the offenders on their hit list. That’s awesome! I love to hear of writers practicing, stretching, improving their skills.

However (and that’s a big however), I got caught up in the story anyway. Because these two ladies came up with a real humdinger of a tale!

Eleven-year-old Fairday Morrow (love the name!) has moved to the Begonia House, a huge, creepy old place with lots of local legends surrounding it. Years before, an old man died mysteriously at the foot of a high balcony. Homicide had not been ruled out. And twenty years before that, the same man’s daughter suddenly went missing in the house the day of her wedding. But Fairday doesn’t know all these details when she sets about investigating the contents of an upper room. For you see, Fairday heads up a detective agency (the DMS—detective mystery squad) with her best friend Lizzy. And the upper room is laden with mystery.

Where is the strange bagpipe music coming from? What was that glimpse of red shoes in the mirror? What does the brass key open? And how did Fairday’s baby sister get inside the mirror?! Join Fairday, Lizzy, and their new friend Brocket the Rocket as they uncover the answers and tie them into the house’s perplexing past.

This one is full of imagination and kid-pleasing details. The drawings above each chapter heading, while not professional, are nicely stylized and add a pleasing element to the tale (see the cover image). It’s clean aside from a few omg’s and one minor profanity. If you like an entertaining mystery, this one is worth picking up. I’ll be watching to see if it goes to print. Meanwhile, they freely give away copies to reviewers.

10 thoughts on “The Secret DMS Files of Fairday Morrow, by Jessica Haight and Stephanie Robinson

    1. I’ve been playing around with my header and background all evening. I’m going to “WordPress” my author website soon, and I’m trying to decide if I want to move this one to my own domain (which would mean all my links from other blogs wouldn’t work anymore) or just create a new one (which would mean managing two sites, but I’m already doing that). Decisions…

      1. Exactly, which is why I’m leaning toward keeping two. It’s easy to include a tab in my author site menu that goes right to my blog and vice versa. That’s what I do now. I just feel I need to update my author website, which is based on PHP language(?) and much harder to use. I wish I had merged them last year!

  1. Michelle- Thanks for sharing your thoughts about The Secret DMS Files of Fairday Morrow with your readers. We were happy when you asked for a copy to read and we are glad that you enjoyed the story. Editing has been lots of work, but so rewarding. It is great to see the adverbs go and the dialogue get cleaned up. We always appreciate feedback so we can make our writing stronger. 

    Erik- We hope you get to read it soon and enjoy it!

    Patricia- We loved adventure books when we were growing up, too!

    Rosi- Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Mysteries can be such fun!

    Thanks for having us on your blog, Michelle. Happy reading!

    1. I’m glad you ladies stopped by! I enjoyed your book a great deal. It has the kind of setting I’d like to explore! The Begonia House was my favorite part of the story. It has so much personality, it’s almost a character in its own right.

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