A Mystery at Lili Villa By Arathi Menon – Review

“Cousins Arj, Tam, and Mira are spending their summer vacation in Elathoor, a little village in Kerala when their family home, Lili Villa, is broken into and some jewelry is stolen. The Terrific Three set out to solve the mystery but soon discover that there is no shortage of suspects.  Is it Pinching Kodavis or Dumdumchecchi, the milking lady? Is it the mean fisherwoman who starves the cat or the retired nurse who owns a luxury car? Or is it Mani with his upside-down Russian secret? Who could the thief possibly be?

In a throwback to unscheduled summer vacations, this cozy mystery will charm young readers with plenty of sibling sparring, some intrepid sleuthing, and an endless parade of mouth-watering snacks”.

I can not express how happy I was  that I got the opportunity to read A Mystery at Lili Villa by Arathi Menon – Massive thank you to Yali Books & Net Galley. 

What a special little book filled with mystery and crime solving fun! I was pleasantly surprised at how lovely this story turned out to be! I grew up reading The Famous Five – all thanks to my mum who grew up in Pakistan watching the tv series. I absolutely loved the adventures the children would go on and I would dream of how I too one day would get up to no good and venture out into the world. 

Arathi Menon has created a magical little world which follows – Tam who is spending her summer with her cousins  Arj and Mira at their family home in Kerala. This story is full of life and so beautifully vibrant, I felt as though I had been transported to India and I was following the trio on their little adventure. Honestly I was reminded of the time I spent abroad with my cousins abroad and all the mischief and mystery solving we would get up to. The stories I could tell… maybe another day. 

This book is not very long (I think it’s the perfect length for the intended audience)  but it definitely packs a lot in. There is not a single dull moment throughout – we meet so many different yet wonderfully full characters throughout – each with a story of their own to tell! I managed to read this book very quickly because of how easy and fast it was to take in. Yes it was a little difficult to begin because I was wondering what some of the words meant but it’s easy to follow and there is a lovely little glossary at the back of the book for food, and Hindi and Malayalam words. 

I adore Arj, Mira and Tam. They are honestly the cutest, the smartest and most inquisitive children who ultimately end up outsmarting the adults. The dynamic between the cousins is very very relatable and just so sweet. I love how each child is so determined to solve the mystery and prove that they are capable and mature enough – it’s just so cute! I don’t want to spoil anything so go read this book!  I love this book so much I forgot to mention how adorable the cover is!

I found myself smiling and laughing throughout this book and I just felt so at home (if that makes sense) I love that this book is set in Kerala, India and I love that nothing was skimmed over to make it or detract from the setting or the culture or the people. This is a beautifully written story with the most wonderful representation anyone could ask for. So I’m going to rate this book a 5/5. I wish that I as a child was able to experience this delightful story! I will definitely be picking up a physical of this and sharing it with all the children in my life when they are old enough. I look forward to reading more books by Arathi Menon in the near future.

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