Skip to main content Skip to search Skip to search


Below the Surface

by (author) Allison Finley

Orca Book Publishers
Initial publish date
Apr 2023
NON-CLASSIFIABLE, Ghost Stories, Mysteries & Detective Stories
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Apr 2023
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Apr 2023
    List Price

Add it to your shelf

Where to buy it

Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 9 to 12
  • Grade: 4 to 7
  • Reading age: 9 to 12


A thirteen-year-old boy finds a pocket watch linked to a local legend about a lost treasure.

Theo is happy spending his summer searching the river for treasure. Even if he mostly just finds empty cans and fishing lures. But when he discovers a pocket watch in the waters beneath a bridge that's said to be haunted, he is sure his luck has changed. Theo soon learns that the pocket watch is linked to a local legend about a ghost and buried treasure. Theo is determined to solve this mystery and posts his progress online. Even after he receives an anonymous threat telling him to leave things alone, Theo continues to dig deeper. He learns that the death of a traveler decades earlier may not have been an accident. And that there’s someone out there who will stop at nothing to keep the truth buried.

This short novel is a high-interest, low-reading level book for middle-grade readers who are building reading skills, want a quick read or say they don’t like to read! The epub edition of this title is fully accessible.

About the author

Allison Finley has a BFA in Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia. She works as a freelance writer and editor. Allison gratefully lives next to a river just outside of Vancouver, British Columbia, on the ancestral, traditional and unceded territory of the Kwikwetlem First Nation.

Allison Finley's profile page


  • Commended, Junior Library Guild (JLG) Gold Standard Selection
  • Commended, CCBC Best Books for Kids & Teens, starred selection

Editorial Reviews

“Will appeal to more than just reluctant readers. Theo is a likeable character, his friendship with Syd is supportive, and their shared adventure moves quickly to a satisfying conclusion. An appealing selection for anyone who likes mysteries, this book is recommended for elementary and middle school libraries.”

Children's Literature Comprehensive Database (CLCD)

“A thoughtful, fast-paced mystery that draws readers in… Recommended for those who like suspense and mystery and those who need to build reading confidence without sacrificing an engaging story and likeable character.”

Canadian Children's Book Centre (CCBC) Canadian Children’s Book News

“An irresistible narrative voice...An engaging mystery told simply but eloquently.”

Kirkus Reviews

“The plot is engaging and full of twists and turns... Reluctant readers interested in mystery, treasure hunting, and ghost stories will want to pick this one up. Recommended for library collections where ghost stories and mysteries are popular.”

School Library Journal

“Engaging...Theo and Syd are likeable and realistic characters that display determination to solve the mystery, often coming up with unusual ways of doing things. Recommended.”

CM: Canadian Review of Materials

Related lists