Black Cats and Butlers. Janine Beacham.

Black Cats and Butlers is the first in a series of children’s mystery novels and it is a promising addition to the field.

Set in Victorian times in a fictionalised York(e), there is some lovely writing about its narrow streets and cat statues. The main character is 12-year-old Rose Raventhorpe, daughter of Lord Frederick, the Baron of Yorkesborough. Rose is a tenacious investigator who is neglected by her vain mother; hopefully we will learn a lot more about Rose in future books in the series.

My quibble with this book comes down to Rose’s life: she is a Lord’s daughter and has an ultra-conventional mother yet she somehow is governessed by a butler and often runs free without a chaperone; more than this, she attends a funeral; and even more than this she reads a poem at the funeral. None of this would have happened in Victorian York. Yes the setting is fictional but so many Victorian class and gender conventions are kept in the book that these aberrations jarred with me. Hopefully this will be sorted out in Rose’s future adventures. Personally, I will also be glad if there are no more supernatural elements in the series.

Despite these minor points, Black Cats and Butlers has real charm and Rose’s friend Emily Proops is fabulous: she ‘always wore mourning from top to toe. This was in memory of her late Pomeranian dog’. The Guardians and the Crows are well drawn too.

3 stars for Black Cats and Butlers.

I received this ebook free from NetGalley. It was published, by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, on 9 March 2017.

The second book in the Rose Raventhorpe series is called Rubies and Runaways. It was published on 13 July 2017 and I hope to read it soon.




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