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Season of Secrets


Season of Secrets

So much of children's literature revolves around the loss of a parent. A major event in any person's life, it seems that the most interesting kids in literature (or at least a big chunk of them) end up losing a parent and having that sorrow push them into an adventure that wouldn't have happened to them otherwise. When Molly and Hannah get shipped off to stay with their grandmother after their mom's death so that their dad can figure things out, they are thrust into a strange new world, literally and figuratively. SEASON OF SECRETS is the tale of their adventure with one magical friend, whose powers may be able to turn back the tide on their misfortunes and bring everything back to "normal" again.

Molly is a dreamer, and Hannah is considered by many to be a "mean" girl. The two of them have each other, and soon their true natures are leading them into eerie situations. There is a character named the Holly King, who haunts Molly's dreams, and a very strange, enchanted boy who can make things grow in the palms of his hands. His powers are not exploited by his new friend, although Molly begins to think that maybe these two magical creatures are related --- at least in the lonely parts of her heart and mind.

Helping to establish a strange and eerie background is the fact that this story takes place in England, where everything (at least to an American reader) has a little bit of the glow of the new and unusual --- it is at once both exotic and classic. Nicholls is able to build some fantastic suspense into the story by keeping us wondering how real the adventures that Molly has with her own personal nature boy are. Is the Holly King real? Is the boy real? Are they the same thing? Is Molly able to access this impressively fecund world on her own, even as she is visible to the rest of her family at a picnic? Can anyone else see what she sees, or is it her own private world?

Sally Nicholls is a good writer who clearly has a knack for the suspenseful, and she infuses Molly with an artist's soul, which helps us accept all the strange and wondrous things that happen to her. Her relationships with her family members keep us hoping for the best for all of them, but Molly is the character to whom most will be drawn. SEASON OF SECRETS may be a tad confusing for your average reader, but ultimately I think that most kids would find its combination of dire circumstance and outerworldly mythology appealing and exciting.

Reviewed by Jana Siciliano on January 1, 2011

Season of Secrets
by Sally Nicholls

  • Publication Date: January 1, 2011
  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books
  • ISBN-10: 054521825X
  • ISBN-13: 9780545218252