A Book Review: “The Valley of Secrets”

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Never did I think there would be a day when all the libraries would be closed. 😦   Thankfully, about a month ago, my daughter texted to see if I could find a book for her.  The book could have been in a number of places in our house.  I rummaged around and couldn’t find it, but I did find a few books that looked interesting.  I pulled them out to add to my pile of books to read.  At the time, I thought, This is perfect.  Why not read some of the books that have been hiding away, especially now that the libraries are closed. 

One of the books I happened upon is called The Valley of Secrets, which was written by Charmian Hussey.  It’s a fictional story for teens.  What attracted me to the book was the title, because I thought it sounded scary, and the beautiful illustrations on the cover.  The book was illustrated by Christopher Crump.  The detailed artwork is not only on the cover but can be found at the beginning and end of each chapter.  One thing I enjoyed about this book was I could tell the author took her time crafting this tale.  The writing is very descriptive and gives us much to learn about the Amazon, even though most of the story takes place in the Cornish countryside of England. 

When I first started reading the book, I was sad to learn the main character, Stephen Lansbury, is an orphan and has no friends.  Stephen has a journey, from London to Cornwall, after he learns his great uncle died.  Stephen was surprised to discover he had a living relative.  How sad Stephen did not get to know his uncle when he was alive!  The great uncle left his estate to Stephen.  Stephen is allowed to keep the estate as long as he does not make any changes.  

Mysterious things happen after Stephen finds his way to his new living quarters.  The large estate is surrounded by a fence.  Stephen arrives to find the gate unlocked.  Upon his return from the grocery store one day, the gate is locked, even though Stephen didn’t lock it before he left.  The woman at the grocery store didn’t know Stephen’s great uncle passed away.  Stephen senses the lady is a gossip and doesn’t tell her anything about the whereabouts of his uncle.

Other puzzling things happen.  Stephen feels like he’s being watched.  I wished Stephen would have made a friend or had more human contact.  (I think this was because I was sheltering-at-home.)  It took the turn of many pages before a friend came on the scene.  Before he made a new friend, Stephen spent time reading his great uncle’s journals and exploring the outdoors.  As a teenage boy, it’s no wonder it took him a long while to tour the upstairs of the estate, which I longed to see!

If you are looking for a leisurely read, try The Valley of Secrets.  It’s “An ambitious blend of fantasy, mystery, and ecological adventure” according to the School Library Journal.  People who are interested in the Amazon, the environment, and England would enjoy this book. 

I’m off to read the next book in my to-read pile.  Have you read any good books lately?


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