GENRE: Children’s Fiction, WW2, Mystery
September 1939. When Jimmy is evacuated to a small village in Wales, it couldn’t be more different from London. Green, quiet and full of strangers, he instantly feels out of place. But then he finds a skull hidden in a tree, and suddenly the valley is more frightening than the war. Who can Jimmy trust? His brother is too little; his best friend has changed. Finding an ally in someone he never expects, they set out together to uncover the secrets that lie with the skull. What they discover will change Jimmy – and the village – forever. A mesmerising mystery about bravery and brotherhood from an outstanding new voice.
A book that I’m really excited for readers to discover and love next year is definitely The Valley of Secrets. I expected it to be good; it has a really interesting blurb and the cover is lovely. However, I didn’t expect it to be this good! If it wasn’t for the fact that I have to adult sometimes, this would’ve been a one-sitting read!
I think the thing that really shines through and makes this such a wonderful book is the characters; they really drive the story and are so believable and interesting. They very much come to life and have so much depth; people aren’t always who you expect them to be and that’s very real. I also loved the setting; I could really imagine being in Wales and, again, the writing really made that possible; there was just enough description to really draw you in and make you feel that you were really in Llanbryn.
A further aspect that really makes this such a good read and perfect for a wider audience is that it’s not too dark despite the time it’s set in and the mystery element. I think it caters for many more readers that way and will allow for more people to enjoy the story of Jimmy and the evacuees from London. It’s certainly a book I would’ve loved when I was a child (that’s not to say I don’t love it now as an adult!) and I think it lends itself perfectly to opening up a gateway into further reading of these genres.
Overall, I’d highly highly recommend The Valley of Lost Secrets for anyone who’s just looking for a very good children’s book! I’d say ages 8+ would be the most suitable target audience, and fans of Lisa Thompson are another group of readers that I’d say would love this book! Lesley Parr is an outstanding new voice in children’s literature and definitely one to look out for!