Secret of the Shadows by Cathy MacPhail

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Secret of the Shadows by Cathy MacPhail

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Buy Secret of the Shadows by Cathy MacPhail at Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Linda Lawlor
Reviewed by Linda Lawlor
Summary: Her beloved gran has died, so Tyler is spending time clearing out her home with Aunt Belle. Trouble is, Tyler can see ghosts, and there's something cruel and scary waiting for her in the shore-side bungalow.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 200 Date: May 2012
Publisher: Bloomsbury
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 9781408812686

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If there's one thing, more than any other, which strikes you about the Tyler Lawless books, it's how ordinary and everyday the heroine is. She could easily be the girl up the road, or the one who sits next to you in geography: solid, real, utterly normal. And that is Cathy Macphail's skill: she can create characters who are absolutely convincing and lifelike, who live in the same reality as us, liking the same clothes and food and music. And yet, Tyler sees ghosts.

This ghost-seeing thing is all a bit new to Tyler, and she's not too happy about it. Spotting one of your teachers in the supermarket queue is bad enough at the best of times, but it's a lot worse when the woman's been dead for six months. Phantoms follow her about and insist she help them with whatever is stopping them from moving on and resting peacefully, despite the fact that getting involved puts her in serious danger. And worst still, changing events in the past means even if she tells her friends and family what's going on, they won't remember anything about it. Having to carry a burden like that all alone is a hard thing for anyone to bear, never mind a young girl.

Tyler is spending the summer holidays with her American aunt on the Scottish coast, while her parents visit family in Australia. Belle's sister, Tyler's beloved gran, has passed away and the two of them are getting the cottage ready to sell. But something is not quite right in the little house. Tyler's bedroom is icy cold, no matter how many heaters and blankets she uses, great crowds of spiders appear when she's alone in there, and the previous tenants moved out after a very short time. Then things get even worse. Lively, extravagant Aunt Belle, who's always so full of fun and colour, falls ill and eventually has to be moved to the local hospital. Somehow, people think it's Tyler's fault, and her stories about evil presences and old ladies who appear and beg her for help sound like excuses. It will take all her strength and courage to solve the problems which surround her.

There is definite menace and spookiness in this story, so nervous souls should be sure to read it outside, in full sun and preferably surrounded by a noisy family of small boys (there's surely nothing better for keeping the reader down to earth than being regularly trodden on or used as a goalpost by your brothers). The contrast between the lovely northern coastline and the dark, shady events which brought such sorrow to the little cottage only serve to highlight how isolated and lonely Tyler feels, and how far away her parents and her brother seem. It's a tough situation for a young person to be in, and it's no wonder Tyler considers her 'gift' as more of a liability. But she's determined and feisty, and she does at last find a friend who is willing to help her, so the reader can be sure that although things don't turn out exactly as she had hoped, there will be some sort of a happy ending.

Remember that dead teacher Tyler saw in book one of the series? Well, the good news is, she appears again, in book three. Fans of Cathy Macphail and Tyler Lawless will be waiting impatiently for publication day.

You don't need to have read the first Tyler Lawless book, Out of the Depths, to enjoy this one, but it's so good it would be a shame to miss it. And poor Kitty Slade also finds herself plagued by folk from beyond the grave in Divine Freaks by Fiona Dunbar.

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Buy Secret of the Shadows by Cathy MacPhail at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Secret of the Shadows by Cathy MacPhail at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Secret of the Shadows by Cathy MacPhail at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Secret of the Shadows by Cathy MacPhail at Amazon.com.

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