Title: Grace’s Secrets
Author: Louise Park
Genre: Magical Realism
Publisher: Berbay Publishing
Published: 29th September 2019
Synopsis: When twelve-year-old Grace trades her tropical home in Western Australia for a faraway castle, Victorian costumes and a village trapped in time she thinks it’s the fresh start she desperately needs. But unsolved problems have a way of following …
A map of the castle’s secret passages sends Grace on a time-travelling mystery that will challenge her very existence and all that she loves. Can Grace save herself as well as her family? And how will some of her favourite children’s authors help her on her quest?
Grace’s life has changed so much since she left Broome. She now lives in a castle in the UK, is home-schooled and spends her weekends helping her mother give guests a Victorian-era experience when they stay at Castle Faerie in Faerie Glen Hollow – the name alone sounds magical! One day Grace finds a map that takes her through the castle’s secret passages and into 1862 – where she meets Lord and Lady Darling, an ancestor, Charles Dickens, Lewis Carroll and the Liddell girls, as well as Louisa May Alcott and Rupert Potter – father of Beatrix Potter. Grace must solve a mystery and save Sarah, a maid who is due to be transported to the penal colony in Australia. Can Grace change Sarah’s fate whilst also keeping her family safe in the future?
I’ve had Grace’s Secrets on my shelf for a year or so, and finally got to it in between everything else. And in short, I loved it. Louise did a spectacular job including the real life characters with the fictional characters, and though she took some liberties, they worked so well and didn’t take anything away from what we might already know about Lewis Carroll, Louisa May Alcott or Charles Dickens. For me, books that celebrate literature – and especially literature that we have all probably read at some stage in our lives are truly magical and I felt like Grace must have just had the best time!
This book is filled with magic, time travel and the wonder of a Victorian castle, and the rediscovery of making friends as Grace carefully explores her new home and starts to spend time with Ellie, the daughter of a man who works at the castle. I wanted to dive into the book and go on adventures with them and meet my favourite authors. I loved the cheeky references to things like The Famous Five as well, and the way it all came together at the end was done exceptionally well, allowing the characters and reader to go on a thrilling and fantastic journey together as they solved a mystery and saved a family. This is one that I can’t wait to read again and share with young friends, who I hope will find this as enjoyable as I did.