The Swifts: A Dictionary of Scoundrels (Hardcover)

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The Swifts: A Dictionary of Scoundrels By Beth Lincoln, Claire Powell (Illustrator) Cover Image
By Beth Lincoln, Claire Powell (Illustrator)
On Our Shelves Now
2 on hand, as of Mar 23 3:43am
(Juvenile Fiction (7-11))

Staff Reviews

  I am so glad I picked up this book. “The Swifts” is right in the same vein as “A Series of Unfortunate Events”, “The Westing Game”, and “The Mysterious Benedict Society”, but with its own unique, kooky twists! When a Swift child is born, a name is chosen at random from the giant, mysterious family dictionary. Shenanigan Swift is a little sister in the Swift household, who loves adventures and playing pranks. Though she often lives up to her name, she’s begun to have this nagging feeling that there might be more to it.
    The Swift family is now in a state of disrepair, and as the family reunion looms ahead, so does the race to find the elusive Swift family treasure. Shenanigan is determined to be the one who finds it first, and relish in all the glory! But when a gruesome murder shakes the family’s confidence, Shenanigan, her sisters Felicity and Phenomena, and their new cousin Erf,  might be the only ones able to solve the case and save everyone from a similar fate.
    This story is so much fun to read. I could not put it down, and tore through pages to discover who the murderer was! This book also writes non-binary and LGBTQ+ characters in such a touching and accepting way, and would be a wonderful way to educate children and adults alike about the beauty of being exactly who you are. 



Shenanigan fully embodies her name, as do the many other in the family Swift. Phenomena is a lover of science, Maelstrom is a man of the sea, and Aunt Inheritance is obsessed with family tradition. But Shenanigan feels she is much more than her mischievous name suggests, and she’ll need to prove it during the Swift family treasure hunt/ family reunion after Arch-Aunt Schadenfreude is pushed down the stairs.


The Swifts is a witty, fantastic, and whimsical mystery. It’s sure to keep any book lover reading and on the edge of their seat. 



Check out the audiobook!


— From Mimetic March Staff Picks Part II

March/April 2023 Kids Indie Next List

The Swifts is no run-of-the-mill story. While the eccentric Swifts defy comparison, they remain relatable and deeply human in a book that is part mystery, part family drama, part coming-of-age comedy, and entirely delightful.”
— Jordan Zwick, The Book Seller, Grass Valley, CA


Instant New York Times Bestseller!

Knives Out feel by way of Lemony Snicket…This archly told, never muddled debut whodunit reveals a roster of distinct characters, a labyrinthine setting and plot, and a mystery that is as clever as its heroine.” – Publishers Weekly, starred review

“The suspenseful denouement is positively writhing with twists.” —Booklist, starred review

On the day they are born, every Swift child is brought before the sacred Family Dictionary. They are given a name, and a definition. A definition it is assumed they will grow up to match. 
Meet Shenanigan Swift: Little sister. Risk-taker. Mischief-maker.

Shenanigan is getting ready for the big Swift Family Reunion and plotting her next great scheme: hunting for Grand-Uncle Vile’s long-lost treasure. She’s excited to finally meet her arriving relatives—until one of them gives Arch-Aunt Schadenfreude a deadly shove down the stairs.

So what if everyone thinks she’ll never be more than a troublemaker, just because of her name? Shenanigan knows she can become whatever she wants, even a detective. And she’s determined to follow the twisty clues and catch the killer.

Deliciously suspenseful and delightfully clever, The Swifts is a remarkable debut that is both brilliantly contemporary and instantly classic. A celebration of words and individuality, it's packed with games, wordplay, and lots and lots of mischief as Shenanigan sets out to save her family and define herself in a world where definitions are so important.

Cover may vary.

About the Author

Beth Lincoln was raised in a former Victorian railway station in the North of England. Her childhood fears included porcelain dolls, the Durham panther, and wardrobes that looked at her funny. She grew neither tall nor wise, and never learned to play an instrument—but she did write stories, a bad habit that has persisted to this day. When she isn’t writing, Beth is woodcarving, or making a mess of her flat, or talking the nearest ear off about unexplained occurrences. Her favorite things include ghosts, crisps, and weird old words like bumbershoot and zounderkite.

The Swifts is Beth’s debut novel. It grew out of her love of etymology, the gleeful gothic, and classic murder mysteries. She lives in Newcastle upon Tyne with her partner and hopefully, by the time you are reading this, a dog.

Praise For…

★ “Lincoln’s love of lexicon shines. A delightful pick for sharp readers enamored of gothic sensibilities and clever prose.” —Shelf Awareness, starred review

★ “A Gothic novel of corrosive values… Lincoln’s manor-set murder mystery maintains a Knives Out feel by way of Lemony Snicket… But crackling puns outpace the body count as this archly told, never muddled debut whodunit reveals a roster of distinct characters, a labyrinthine setting and plot, and a mystery that is as clever as its heroine.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review

★ “Taking the classic manor house whodunit for a wild ride, Lincoln mixes hidden rooms and agendas, a sprawling family with unusual naming practices, gender identity discoveries, high comedy and low punning, murder, and more, then stirs briskly. While clues, suspects, and terrific set pieces pile up, the author not only pitches her young investigators into situations both life-threatening and comical, but pulls in a large supporting cast—memorable for more than just their monikers—for perceptive explorations of family ties, pressures, and responsibilities.” —Booklist, starred review

★ “An absolutely delightful debut with heartwarming character growth and a clever, genre-savvy country-house mystery.... The narrative voice includes jokes and viewpoints that will be appreciated by sophisticated younger readers as well as those who are older than Shenanigan; overall, the humor and action are spot-on for middle-grade audiences.” —Kirkus, starred review

“Lincoln whips up a witty confection of highly colorful characters, dynamic wordplay, and a plot dense with action, suspense, double-dealing, innovative murder weapons, and a well-orchestrated eleventh-hour reveal.”The Horn Book Magazine

The Swifts celebrates the wonders of wordplay and the complexity of identity while serving up a compelling murder mystery and a twisty treasure hunt.”BookPage
Product Details
ISBN: 9780593533239
ISBN-10: 0593533232
Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: February 7th, 2023
Pages: 352
Language: English