If the Secret Keeper dies, anyone to whom he or she has confided the information will become a Secret Keeper. This could involve many people, any of whom might be more willing to share the secret. Generally speaking, being a Secret Keeper is a dangerous position to occupy. It is such a serious and binding enchantment that few would undertake it lightly. In spite of the fact that the secret can only be given up voluntarily, many have been subjected to the Imperius and Cruciatus Curses in an effort to make them share their information.
So naturally when I found a new "middle grader" book from the same author I jumped at the chance to read it. The Secret Keepers centers on the adventures of a young year-old boy named Reuben. He lives in Lower Downs, one of the poorer areas of the city of New Umbra. His father died when he was a baby and his mother has to work 2 jo Seven years ago I started reading the "Mysterious Benedict Society" aloud with my kids.
His father died when he was a baby and his mother has to work 2 jobs to keep them afloat in their tiny little apartment. While his mother works, Reuben spends his days exploring the city and keeping a watch on the various inhabitants of the neighborhoods. As he wanders the city we learn a little bit about the "politics" of the city. A mysterious man or creature? Over the years he has accumulated significant influence such that he essentially controls the government, police force, shopkeepers, etc. Reuben prides himself on being able to observe the Directions from positions where he can't be seen from them.
This is one of his many games. His other is exploring and adventuring places he's never been before. One morning he finds an alley with two buildings close together and a ledge higher up. He decides to see if he can lean between the two buildings and work himself up to the ledge. After a nerve wracking climb and nearly exhausting his strength, Reuben rests on the ledge and enjoys the view.
It is here that he discovers a small box engraved with a name and containing an intriguing watch. He admires the beauty and workmanship of the watch and wonders if perhaps he could sell it to try and help raise his family a little bit out of their poverty. However, as he starts investigating the watch to try and find potential buyers, he learns that the Smoke has been searching for a watch precisely matching this one for many years.
Wondering why the Smoke would be interested in the watch, Reuben tinkers with the watch and discovers an unexpected secret Somehow the Smoke learns that a boy has found the watch and sends his Directions out to search everywhere to try and find Reuben. Worried for his safety and not wanting the Smoke to gain the power of the watch, Reuben sets out to find the history of the watch and see what he can learn about its previous owners.
The youngest member of the family, Penny, becomes a good friend to Reuben and as Reuben determines to continue his adventure, she convinces him to reluctantly bring her along.
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Her older brother Jack finds out about their plans and attaches himself to the adventure to try and undermine the Smoke and his hold on the city. Like the Benedict Society books, this novel is a hefty read with over pages. While geared towards middle graders aged , it is written with a tone, complexity and style that doesn't talk down to them and as such it might be off-putting for less adept readers such that it might be better for the older side of that age range. When I read the Benedict books to my kids, the youngest was 5 and she enjoyed the stories while not catching the nuances.
I suspect the same would be true for younger readers of Secret Keepers. An 8-year-old could likely read the book but might get bogged down and a little bored. The overall pacing of the story is methodical and builds on itself as the story progresses. The book is split into three "parts" which could have been categorized as novellas or novels for younger readers each being about pages. The first focuses on Reuben in the Lower Downs and his search through New Umbra to learn more about the watch. The second involves his trip where he meets the Meyer family and learns the history of the watch and then formulates his plan to take on the Smoke.
The final part involves the culmination of his plans and the confrontation with the Smoke. The first part of the book is much slower paced as we get character and world development. The pace picks up as we move into the second part and then it really cranks up once we get into the climactic adventure in part three. Even though the world, characters and story is interesting and engaging, I could see some readers getting bored and bogged down in the early chapters. My advice would be to push through for the heightened suspense and action that builds later in the book. The buildup is worth it.
I found the mechanisms of the plot both unique and familiar at the same time. The world building was both non-descript and realistic. It wasn't set in any specific country location but I could visualize the city, towns and locations quite well. Most of the characterization was pretty high level. I acknowledge that he grew up in hard circumstances but his nature and abilities were still a bit surprising.
Still, as the protagonist of a children's novel, this is to be expected. The other main characters Penny and Jack especially were a lot of fun. I enjoyed the characteristics given to their family as a whole and the way that Penny and Jack were at opposite ends of these character traits. As far as plot development, without presenting any "spoilers" for you let me make what may seem like a very strange comparison I was reminded a little bit of Lord of the Rings or The Hobbit.
I thought about the watch and the Smoke and their relation to the Tolkien plot and his One Ring. It helped flesh out some of the strange motivations of both Reuben and the Smoke.
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I don't know if those stories were a direct influence or not but it was a fun comparison to run in my mind. Overall I found this to be an excellent read. I am definitely recommending that my kids pick this up and read it.
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They're older now so schedules make reading it aloud to them a bit trickier or else I would suggest we renew that tradition. Time has subdued my memory of the Benedict stories but in an initial comparison of my memory, I feel like I loved this book more than the Benedict novels. A re-read of those stories might change my mind but I suspect they are at least equal in enjoyment.
I whole heartedly recommend this book to middle grade or YA readers and even to adult readers who like "youthful" stories. Be prepared for a methodic buildup with intriguing and engaging twists and turns to take you down both predictable and unpredictable roads and leaving you with a number of thoughtful questions to consider.
I don't remember exactly when I read The Mysterious Benedict Society for the first time, but I do remember that I've read it at least five times, and every time it's more charming than the last. It became a series our entire family was into -- reading, discussing, screaming quietly as we waited for the next one to come out and counted down the minutes. Literally sometimes.
The Secret Keepers
There was a timer. I haven't read that series in a few years; I actually found this one completely on accident, since it w I don't remember exactly when I read The Mysterious Benedict Society for the first time, but I do remember that I've read it at least five times, and every time it's more charming than the last. I haven't read that series in a few years; I actually found this one completely on accident, since it was on display at the library.
The author and the cover art was enough to get me to pick it up. It's sophisticated, funny, and the words are gorgeous. I can't even complain about the length. It seems like a lot, but it moves along quickly, and there are plenty of twists and turns.
The Secret Keeper
Or if you just like good stories. View 1 comment. This was cute. It definitely wasn't The Mysterious Benedict Society , but it was cute in it's own way. It does have the MBS vibe going on, though, with the cover, fabulous illustrations and mostly descriptive plot with not a lot of dialogue. I see quite a few reviews about this book being too big, but honestly I don't think I could imagine it shorter--it would ruin the MBS story-line vibe of showing everything and not so much telling. But, I also like big books, so that also might be why I'm okay with this paged story. Aug 30, Alexandra rated it really liked it Shelves: middle-grade , own-on-kindle , own-on-audible , middle-grade-fantasy , read-in , middle-grade-adventure.
The Mysterious Benedict Society is better, but only because that one is fantastic. This is a very enjoyable story.
iqakisov.tk Fantasy elements, while central, are pretty light, and this really is more of an Adventure with a bit of Mystery. Set in an imaginary place that's not so different from our own. As a long time reader of Children's Fantasy, and Sci Fi, I understand the common premise of kids going off adventuring under the noses of caring adults they keep in the dark, and for the most part I think it The Mysterious Benedict Society is better, but only because that one is fantastic. As a long time reader of Children's Fantasy, and Sci Fi, I understand the common premise of kids going off adventuring under the noses of caring adults they keep in the dark, and for the most part I think it's a fairly harmless thing I think kids know the difference between fiction and real life , required to allow children the room to have stories where kids are the adventurers and heroes, but I will say this one had a bit more direct lying to a loving mother than, as an adult, I was strictly comfortable with.
But, over all a good read. Having read Stewart's excellent "Mysterious Benedict Society", I couldn't wait to read his newest book, especially after having seen the title and cover, replete with lighthouse, shimmering stars and frothy waves! While exploring the Lower Downs in New Umbra, Reuben comes across a strange watch sticking out of the upper story of a building. He contemplates it's worth, dreaming of the money he could make to help his single Mom, who is having trouble making ends meet. Careful to avoid the Directio Having read Stewart's excellent "Mysterious Benedict Society", I couldn't wait to read his newest book, especially after having seen the title and cover, replete with lighthouse, shimmering stars and frothy waves!
Careful to avoid the Directions four men walking in formation and monitoring all events from each direction , Reuben quickly finds out that the watch has special powers and a mysterious figure known only as the Smoke, is desperately seeking it.