cover image Season of Secrets

Season of Secrets

Sally Nicholls, Scholastic/Levine, $16.99 (240p) ISBN 978-0-545-21825-2

Death and birth, then and now, bad and good: Molly is encountering transition for the first time, and the loss of childhood's certainties isn't easy. Molly's mother has just died. Her father has sent her and her older sister, Hannah, to live at Grandma and Grandpa's odd half-house, half-shop, "until [he] gets things Sorted Out. Whenever that is." Caught in an autumn storm, Molly is terrified by a horned huntsman and worried about the bloodied man she finds after the hunt. No one believes her, but after Molly finds the face of "her man" carved in the pillar of an old church, Molly's teacher tells her about the Oak King and the Holly King, who do battle eternally as the seasons change. Nicholls's second novel, following her critically acclaimed Ways to Live Forever and its theme of terminal illness, is an exploration of surviving. Molly's wishes don't come true, and the cycles of nature do not stop just because she cries. But Molly learns, too, that no change is an absolute, and if she can't stop it, she can yet make something of it. Ages 8–12. (Jan.)