The Black Book of Secrets

F. E. Higgins, Author . Feiwel and Friends $14.95 (273p) ISBN 978-0-312-36844-9

This polished debut from a British writer tantalizingly blends secrets and thick, evocative atmosphere. In an indeterminate, grim past (think Dickensian squalor by way of a Broadway stage set), the boy Ludlow Fitch flees the City, “a stinking place undeserving of a name,” and his parents, who have betrayed him for the last time. Chance (or is it destiny?) leads him to remote Pagus Parvus and to another newcomer, Joe Zabbidou, who sets himself up as a pawnbroker. But Zabbidou has a sideline: he pays good money for secrets. One by one the villagers come to him at midnight to unburden themselves—and they spill some doozies. The undertaker has dug up corpses, to be sold to a medical school; the butcher served his father a pie of rat, mouse, beetles and worms. As Ludlow inscribes the secrets in Zabbidou’s Black Book, he fights down his suspicions of Zabbidou even as he joins the villagers in their hatred of Jeremiah Ratchet, the wealthy villain to blame for their misery and evil deeds. Higgins, framing her book as texts discovered in a hollowed wooden leg, expertly sustains the audience’s curiosity, revealing just enough information to keep readers riveted. And for all the grisly details, the novel gets at important themes about self-determination and trust. Original and engrossing. Ages 9-12. (Oct.)

Reviewed on: 11/19/2007
Release date: 10/01/2007
Genre: Children's
Prebound-Glued - 273 pages - 978-0-606-21690-6
Paperback - 273 pages - 978-0-312-62905-2
Hardcover - 253 pages - 978-84-96886-06-3
Ebook - 288 pages - 978-1-4299-3080-2
Prebound-Sewn - 273 pages - 978-1-61383-007-9
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