The Haunted Attic by Margaret Sutton

The Haunted Attic


Goodreads: The Haunted Attic
Series: Judy Bolton #2
Source: Library
Published: 1932


The Boltons move into a new house, reported to be haunted, and ]udy is determined to solve the mystery before her Halloween party. But can she and her brother be brave enough to deal with the spirit who walks the attic?

Star Divider


The Haunted Attic continues the adventures of teenage sleuth Judy Bolton, a heroine who originally appeared in the 1930s, as a sort of counterpart to Nancy Drew. However, unlike Nancy, Judy is known for aging over the course of the series and her books have been noted by fans as being somewhat more socially conscious. The Haunted Attic provides fans of serial mystery stories with a comfortably predictable pattern, while engaging them with an emphasis on Judy’s social and familial relationships.

Part of the charm of the Judy Bolton books so far is that Judy spends a lot of time interacting with her brother Horace and her physician father, as well as worrying about her friends and school life. This book sees Judy navigating the perils of a new high school. While she longs to fit in and be popular, she makes enemies of a mean girl early on, and finds that her friendship with one of the town’s richest girls is causing jealousy. While Nancy Drew seems to be universally loved by all, Judy’s experience of high school is so awful that she begins to wonder if she should leave. This adds a bit of realism and relatability to a book that otherwise can strain credulity with its romantic mystery elements.

Also notable is the book’s attempts at social commentary. Judy clearly longs to be popular and to move in the upper-class set. However, she simultaneously does not hesitate to call out that set when they say things that disparage the working-class girls at the mill. Still, Judy has to work hard to uphold her own ideals when she realizes that associating with the mill girls could mean losing her friends at school. Her beliefs threaten to clash with practice when she has to decide whom to invite to her Halloween party.

While trying to be a normal high school girl, Judy is, of course, also determined to solve the mystery of her haunted house. In this respect, she does seem a little more passive than Nancy. She lives in the house in question, so basically all she needs to do is make a foray into the attic now and then, and question the chief of police about what he knows. Her brother Horace actually ends up solving the bulk of the mystery, which is disappointing.

Still, the Judy Bolton mysteries are a pleasant read. The mysteries so far have been easy to solve, following neat patterns where several seemingly unrelated problems are ultimately shown to be part one of overarching case. Readers will solve the clues long before Judy, but there’s something comforting about knowing the formula and watching Judy try to figure it out, too. I’ll definitely be ordering book three from the library.

4 stars

5 thoughts on “The Haunted Attic by Margaret Sutton

  1. Jackie B @ Death by Tsundoku says:

    I’ve never heard of the Judy Bolton books, but I am intrigued. I like the comparison to Nancy Drew — do you find one of these series more engaging to read? My instinct says I’ll like the Bolton books more, but that’s just based on a single review…


    • Krysta says:

      So far I’ve only read two Judy Bolton books and they’re basically the same formula as Nancy Drew. However, I think the series might get more interesting as it progresses. It’s obviously setting up a love triangle right now with Judy, the boy next door, and the rich guy, so I guess her personal life may come more into play later. I liked book two because, along those same lines, we got some of Judy’s school drama. In contrast, Nancy’s non-mystery life is never really addressed, which I guess makes her less of a three-dimensional character.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Jackie B @ Death by Tsundoku says:

        As someone who wasn’t introduced to Nancy Drew until high school, I didn’t understand the addiction so many of my friends had. Now that you mention that Nancy’s life outside of the mystery is rarely mentioned – bam! You nailed it for me. Nancy had friends and a family but we never got much experience outside what was happening in hte mystery. It’s like her whole life was solving these mysteries… but it couldn’t have been.


        • Krysta says:

          I think Nancy’s unknown personal life can work in her favor. She’s kind of a bland rich girl who gets everything she wants–she’s popular, has a steady boyfriend while her friends can’t seem to keep one, consistently proves she can snorkel, draw, ride horses, etc. So she becomes this stand-in for the reader who wishes they were cool like Nancy Drew.

          Alternatively, she comes across as a bland Mary Sue and is not taken very seriously by readers.

          When I was eight, Nancy was awesome. But if I had been introduced to her in high school, I might not have been so sure.

          Liked by 1 person

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