The original girl detective herself, Nancy Drew, played a fundamental role in my love of reading. The Nancy Drew Mysteries were the first chapter books I read growing up. I loved how talented and independent Nancy Drew was. It also didn’t hurt that at the time, Costco was selling new prints of Nancy Drew in packs of six books for about ten dollars a pack, so it was an affordable way for my parents to keep me entertained for a few days.
I haven’t read any of the stories in years, mostly because I left all my copies at my parents' house when I moved out for college. My husband, though, saw some original editions at a used bookstore in town and bought me five for Christmas one year. The Haunted Showboat was one of those.
I remember reading this story when I was younger. I was amazed at the determination of bad guy ( as every antagonist in a 10-year-old mind is called) to keep Nancy and company away from their final destination; perplexed at the crazy idea that people would coordinate their outfits so closely to each other – as Nancy, Bess, and George did when going out on their boat tour of New Orleans; and astonished at how quickly Nancy got both of the perpetrators to confess. It snagged me (well, the 10-year-old me) hook, line, sinker, and was of my favorite stories out of the series.
Re-reading it as an adult, a different thing stood out to me. For example, the language the author used, how dependent Nancy actually was on her male companions even though the series was created for female empowerment, and how much filler was used in telling the main plot points. Times, and writing, have definitely changed since 1957.
The story itself is still a fantastic one, and a wonderful gateway into the world of mysteries for young readers – or anyone that enjoys a quick read. I would only caution parents (or anyone unfamiliar with the series) that these books were written in a different time, and the verbiage and language reflect that. In comparing my original 1957 print to my re-released 1981 print, it seems that the language was not updated to be more current. With that in mind, I would still recommend this book, as well as the rest of the series, with the understanding that they could create some questions in the minds of younger readers.