Edit ModuleShow Tags

Award-Winning Author Channels Northwoods in New YA Book

Minnesota native Margi Preus explores familiar scenes and events in her new mystery novel for young adults


Author Margi Preus

Courtesy of University of Minnesota Press

A murder linked to mammoth bones and maple syrup—here in Minnesota, as depicted in The Clue In the Trees, the second book in Minnesota Book Award–winning author Margi Preus’ Enchantment Lake series that follows the investigations of high-school senior and amateur detective Francie.

A Minnesota native and New York Times bestselling author, Preus returns to the fictional town of Walpurgis, Minnesota, where Francie is ready to start fresh with her first year at a new school. After the series’ first book, Enchantment Lake, wherein Francie investigated the rapid deaths of her aunt’s neighbors, Francie decides to take a step away from sleuthing and focus on being a normal teen. That is—until she stumbles upon a local paleontologist’s dead body, strangled with her own scarf. Taking the case, Francie finds herself in compromising positions—suspecting her brother as a murderer, confronting a wicked lunch lady, and getting her hands on a hidden box her missing mother left behind—forcing this “Northwoods Nancy Drew” right back into the type of action the local sheriff advised her against. 

The novel should feel familiar to anyone who has spent time in northern Minnesota on a crisp autumn night, as Preus envisioned Walpurgis based on her own north-woods experiences. Her previous books have taken place in far-away locations such as Norway and Germany, so writing the Enchantment Lake series made for a new, fun way to experience her own neck of the woods. “Leaves drifted from the trees and clustered along the shoreline or floated on the water, made suddenly so cold by frosty nights,” Preus describes in the novel. “Bare branches” and “lonely cabins” add to a chilly depiction, making her reader want to pull out the flannel and snuggle up by the fire.

The characters, drawn as composites of people Preus knows, add to a certain Minnesota charm, with man buns pulled tight and hot-dishes in hand. She mentions Francie’s “loopy great aunts” as similar to her own aunts and, recently, herself. Preus notes Francie’s interest in acting—the character having bounced between auditions now starring in her school play—as something close to her heart. She participated in children’s theater in the past and recently wrote for Colder by the Lake, a comedy theater in Duluth.

Informed residents will also find familiarity in Francie’s new sidekick, Raven, who spends time protesting a nearby pipeline project drawing parallels to the recent Dakota Access Pipeline controversy. While Preus says she does not aim to state an opinion on the topic, she encourages young people to learn more about the issues close to home and to get involved with the causes they care about.

This quick read is meant for a young bookworm cozying up in their northern Minnesota cabin. And as some mysteries remain unsolved, readers can expect more to come in the Enchantment Lake series.

Find The Clue in the Trees on Amazon.

Edit ModuleShow Tags

About This Blog

Whether you are a seasoned Twin Cities traveler or planning your first trip to Minnesota, this blog will introduce you to many new adventures to add to your itinerary. From day trips and scenic discoveries to luxurious girls weekends, travel tips, and insider scoops, our editors will give you all the information you need to enjoy your stay Up North.

Learn about the contributing writers.

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Travel Blog

Memorial Day Activities in the Twin Cities

From historical reenactments to a hip-hop music festival, there's something for everyone this Memorial Day weekend in the Twin Cities.

A Day Trip to Red Wing

Located right on the Mississippi River, Red Wing offers a historic downtown district and spectacular views

It's Farmers Market Season

No matter where you live in Minnesota, fresh produce, flowers and homemade goodies await

Origami in the Garden

The Minnesota Landscape Arboretum's latest exhibit puts the art of folding paper on full display with a garden and metal twist

New Ways to Explore 3 Classic MN Destinations

From Fort Snelling to the North Shore, check out this summer's technological updates to historic and wild Minnesota places

Sue Z.'s Charitable Check-In: May

This month, Sue Z. recommends supporting local student chefs with a dinner at Saint Dinette

What to Wear + Where to Go: Music Festivals

Your style guide for Minnesota music festivals

Mesabi Trail Offers New Views in Northern Minnesota

The Mesabi Trail, a 120-mile paved cycling and hiking trail that spans the Mesabi Iron Range, recently opened a new connection in Virginia, MN that crosses the state's tallest bridge and offers amazing views of former minelands.

Glensheen Mansion Bonfire Nights

Enjoy this summer tradition from one of the most iconic estates in the state

Twin Cities Festival Spring Babies

If April showers bring May flowers, spring babies bring fun for the whole family

Record Store Day: Where to Find Rare Releases in MN

On April 21, rock out at mini-music festivals around the state, dig into gourmet donuts, and collect the rare vinyls available one time a year

Catch the Lyrids Meteor Shower

The meteor shower peaks April 21 and 22, just in time for Earth Day

A Day Trip to Excelsior

Just 20 miles west of the Twin Cities, this waterfront town is complete with charming shops and lakeside dining

Night Art Gallery Is Your Sober Night Out

The Lindstrom art gallery entertains with hors d'oeuvres, tons of art available for purchase, and non-alcholic drinks
Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags