Down the Rabbit Hole by Peter Abrahams
Rating: 4/4 stars
Ingrid, a fairly average thirteen-year-old girl, lives in Echo Falls, New York with her parents and brother. One day, she discovers a series of mysterious events which lead her to a very dangerous conspiracy. To explain the plot more would give away the experience of reading the book. Abrahams incorporates so many details and subplots in Ingrid’s world that it is the reader’s job to attempt to figure out what is relevant and what is not.
The best part of the story by far, though, is the characterization. Ingrid, unlike many female fictional characters, is not established as particularly “special,” “extraordinary,” or even “really regular but somehow unique.” She is written like a real, multifaceted girl, who plays soccer, performs in plays, spends time with her friends, hates math and history, and is fascinated with Sherlock Holmes and the art of deductive reasoning. She isn’t a full-time investigator at the age of sixteen like Nancy Drew or a blank slate who does absolutely nothing until the “big story events” come along; she has to work around her family, friends, and school while developing her slightly-above-average skills in observation and analysis.
The story is also very much told through her point of view; the reader sees, hears, and smells the things that Ingrid does, while Abrahams still manages to slip in a few other things for the reader to think about that go unnoticed by the protagonist. This storytelling creates a highly suspenseful, dramatic story without incorporating any sort of melodrama, horror, paranormal events, or even an “it’s actually aliens” deus ex machina at the end. Despite the suspense and drama, the story still feels very realistic, as if it could happen to the reader themselves. Fans of Sherlock Holmes will enjoy this, as it is a similar storytelling style without the whole “brilliant, aloof, superhuman genius” idea that requires a certain suspension of disbelief, and even irrelevant details are described in the book, somewhat eliminating the flaw, in many of stories such as this, in which the “brilliant detective” is able to do what they are able to do because the author feeds them the details relevant to the story while ignoring everything else. If you are looking for a fascinating mystery that will make you want to test out your own detective powers, then Down the Rabbit Hole, as well as the sequels, Behind the Curtain and Into the Dark, is the book for you.