The hunt is a mystery in a newly published book - The Hidden Sun - by Banbury author, designer and illustrator Ben Brewis who runs Firesnake.com; a graphic design and art concept studio based in Banbury.
The Hidden Sun is a 64-page treasure hunt game book, taking the reader on an adventure across the rolling hills, historic villages and other-wordly vistas of Banburyshire.
Players find clues to the answers within the poems and imagery and the treasure will be theirs to keep. It promises to be a great brain-teasing adventure for families, individuals or groups. It is full of riddles, puzzles and enigmatic illustrations with hidden secrets.
Mr Brewis said the book has taken three years to make.
"“My inspiration for creating the hunt was our two curious children. I remember as a six year old reading the original Armchair Treasure Hunt books, the legendary Masquerade by Kit Williams and the Cadbury’s Creme Egg Mystery," he said.
"They were full of magic potential, lovingly crafted artwork and at the heart of them, a beguiling mythical mystery. I still treasure those original books from the early 1980s and a few years ago after a fun Easter egg hunt with the kids, I decided to get busy and create something that they could enjoy too, something to test the brain as well as being fun.
"The idea is to connect families, friends and individuals with a sense of discovery, the beauty of the outdoors and the use of the mind," he said.
"At this unfortunate time of lockdown, I obviously advise readers to stay at home and solve the puzzles together that way. I've included a 'look-and-find' hunt on every illustration for younger children to get involved with too - finding the animals and insects hidden within the images.
“At around the time I started the book, I was nominated for a Business Innovation Award for a Banburyshire tourism app which later became Banburyshire.co.uk, on which you can find the details for The Hidden Sun. I’d also exhibited my digital art in London, New York and Hong Kong with fine-art award The Lumen Prize, which was an amazing experience. So I combined all those practices into one project, which could help inspire the local residents to discover aspects of the local area that they might not have known about."
The clues in the hunt feature 24 objects and/or names hidden in plain sight around the nearby towns, villages and countryside. Readers can solve the puzzles from their home anywhere in the world using their detective skills, online research/maps and a little imagination.
"The added bonus with this book is the prospect of discovering the real treasure which I’ve helped put together," said Mr Brewis.
The treasure consists of The Hidden Sun - a beautiful hanging ornament made from 18ct gold, silver, precious gems and Swarovski crystals; a Midnight Hare statuette hand-painted with gold leaf and featuring a moonstone gem and silver pendant; a original, 24in x 24 in framed artwork called Rollright Gold on wood and hand-finished in gold leaf and finally a 22ct Sovereign Gold Bullion Coin - the Royal Mint's flagship coin.
"The total worth of the treasure is around £2,000. They are all unique pieces of art that can be claimed by the first person to submit the correct Location and Keyword found by decoding the clues," said Mr Brewis.
"Since creating the book I’ve also had interest from the US, being interviewed by Jenny Kile, who runs the world’s best website dedicated to treasure hunts and puzzle solving. Once this lockdown is over, if I can help bring more visitors from other countries to our area, then I couldn’t ask for more. We all need to look after our local residents, organisations and businesses, no matter how large or small. Hopefully The Hidden Sun will spark further interest in the area through tourism.
“It took me many years of planning the overall concept, find the clue locations, the writing, the photo-illustrations, prizes and branding. The process ended up being much greater than I’d anticipated, but I hope readers see that dedication shine through in the finished book. Best of luck to everyone and stay safe.”.
The Hidden Sun is available to buy as a paperback or Kindle ebook on Amazon. For further information on the book and hunt visit Mr Brewis's website here.