Mandrake's Plot

Children - Mystery
190 Pages
Reviewed on 02/06/2020
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Author Biography

Helen Laycock's stories appear in a variety of anthologies and magazines as well as in her own collections, and have been successful in many competitions. Her first attempt at play-writing secured her a shortlisting in Pint-Sized Plays in 2016.
In 2018, she was commissioned as a lead writer at Visual Verse and her flash has featured in several editions of The Best of CafeLit. Recently, pieces have been showcased in the Cabinet of Heed, Reflex Fiction and Lucent Dreaming – whose inaugural flash competition she won. She was longlisted in Mslexia’s 2019 flash competition and her work was selected to appear in the 2019 Flash Flood Journal as part of National Flash Fiction Day.
She has penned nine children's books for 8-12-year-olds and is employed as a writer by an educational publisher.
Helen Laycock's poetry has recently appeared in Popshot, Poems for Grenfell (Onslaught) and Full Moon and Foxglove (Three Drops Press), and her children's poetry has been twice published in The Caterpillar Magazine. Poems appear in several further anthologies. She won the David St. John Writing Awards for Novice Poetry in 2006.





As a child, I loved boarding school mysteries. What better than a setting in the Scottish Highlands where a key, a code and a curse are on the curriculum...

Please click on the YouTube trailer for a teaser.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Liz Konkel for Readers' Favorite

Mandrake’s Plot by Helen Laycock is an exciting mystery that finds two young girls uncovering the secrets of their new boarding school. Evie is on her way to begin a new life at St. Agatha’s Boarding School for Girls when she meets fellow traveler Mia. The two quickly bond over their shared destination with neither expecting the grim greeting they receive upon arrival. They notice an immediate strangeness about the school as no one bothers to pick them up, which forces them to make their own trek to the eerie place. They’re immediately met with hostility and quickly notice something is off about the others living there. As the mystery deepens, they meet the caretaker Mandrake who has a surprising connection to the curse that ails the school and band together to find a way to break it.

Mandrake’s Plot by Helen Laycock is a delightful mystery with a grim and eerie tone through the foreboding school and hostile students. The further the two children are drawn into the mystery, they discover darkness within that has taken over every corner of the school. The mystery is full of surprising twists and a supernatural turn. The story has everything that makes for an exciting read with a strange school, an eerie chamber, a supernatural element, and hostile behavior that spark Evie and Mia’s determination to find answers. The core of the story revolves around the friendship between the two girls which helps each of them through their individual coming of age journeys and to find the strength to break the curse. The safety of the entire school and everyone in it is placed upon their shoulders as only they can put an end to the curse. Young readers will be quickly drawn into this addictive mystery as the secrets of the boarding school are brought to light through Mandrake’s Plot which has suspense, action, and friendship.