The Secret Keepers by Trenton Lee Stewart

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The Secret Keepers by Trenton Lee Stewart

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Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Judy Davies
Reviewed by Judy Davies
Summary: A magical tale of a young boy living in an unfair World. Friendship, courage and resourcefulness feature heavily in this engrossing adventure tale, and prove that no matter what, love and trust will always win out over hatred and fear.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 512 Date: February 2017
Publisher: Chicken House
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 9781911077282

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Reuben is a small boy growing up with his mum in a big city full of injustice and fear. The family have little money and working two jobs means that Reuben's mum trusts him to be on his own a lot. For a young child Reuben develops a lot of independence, which really helps him when he finds an unusual and precious object and decides to try to uncover its secret. He hopes it might be valuable and dreams of being able to buy his mum her ideal home. Unfortunately there is someone else also looking for the object and Reuben enters into a dangerous game of hide and seek as he dares to take on the most powerful and ruthless man in the city.

New Umbra provides a dark and scary setting for this story, where everyone is frightened and no-one trusts their neighbours. It's a good name for the city, as its citizens really are trying to stay in the shadows. I love the way Trenton Lee Stewart introduces us to city life through Reuben's eyes and we see all the secret places that the lonely Reuben explores during his school holidays. We may not recognise New Umbra as any city we know, but it's so well described that it becomes uncomfortably real.

Leading us through this adventure story, we quickly get to know and love Reuben, a quiet and solitary boy who has a big, courageous heart. He is full of complexity; socially under confident while being resourceful and independent, showing us a strong feeling of right and wrong while willingly breaking all the rules if he has to. There is a spine-chillingly evil baddie in the story, supported by his henchmen, who seem to have a vice like grip on the running and government of New Umbra. Reuben tries to take him on, with the help of some new friends who bring well needed relief to such a dark tale.

Stewart has woven a long and detailed adventure story, which builds slowly and has many twists and turns. Keeping secrets is a theme throughout and Reuben and his young friends are continually faced with the dilemma about who to trust. It may not be good to keep secrets from adults but it certainly makes for a page turning story!

I loved this story. It was quite unusual with its Big Brother connotations and the magical elements were fascinating. It felt like a 'proper read' in the way that some books are just totally engrossing. I'm tempted to flip back to page one and start it all over again....!

If you liked The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow by Katherine Woodfine or The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick then you'll love this!

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Buy The Secret Keepers by Trenton Lee Stewart at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Secret Keepers by Trenton Lee Stewart at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy The Secret Keepers by Trenton Lee Stewart at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Secret Keepers by Trenton Lee Stewart at


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