Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Review - The Black Book Of Secrets (Tales for the Sinister City, Book 1) by F.E. Higgins (5/5 stars)

The Black Book of SecretsReading level: Middle Grade
Genre: Historical Fantasy/Horror
Size: 288 pages
Publisher:  Feiwel & Friends
Release Date: October 2, 2007
ISBN-13:  978-0312368449
Stand Alone or Series: 1st book in Sinister City series
Source: Bought
Rating: 5/5 stars

Previously I had read The Bone Magician (the second book in this series) and really enjoyed it.  I was eager to read this book since it was supposed to be even better than the Bone Magician.  While I didn't think this book was better, just different than the Bone Magician, I absolutely loved it and devoured it from cover to cover.

Ludlow Fitch flees his evil parents and ends up in the sleepy rural town of Parvus Pravil.  There he meets another new resident to the town a Pawnbroker named Joe Zabbidon.  Joe is not any Pawnbroker; he is a Pawnbroker of Secrets and he needs some help with the everyday running of his Pawnshop.  Ludlow ends up apprenticing to Joe and finds out that there are more secrets in this sleepy town than he could have imagined.  Ludlow also witnesses how a simple Pawnbroker can change the fate of a town.

I adored this book just as much as I adored the Bone Magician.  This book is dark in tone, very Gothic but not without humor here and there.  It takes place in a sort of Victorian era in a rural setting.  There are many unpleasant things that happen and Ludlow must navigate around them to find his calling.

Higgins does an absolutely fantastic job with description and creating a moody, dark atmosphere...that (while a bit spooky) never gets too scary.  The author weaves an intricate plot and the quirky characters throughout are very engaging and fun.  I had trouble putting this book down and thoroughly enjoyed the writing style.

The book ends well and I am eager to read later books in the series for example: The Eyeball Collector and The Lunatic's Curse.  This is an excellent book for middle grade and older readers who like a little creepy in their stories and enjoy dark Gothic settings.  It is just a very well told story in the traditional story-telling sense.

Overall I absolutely loved this book.  The writing is a pleasure to read and creates a wonderful Gothic atmosphere.  The mystery and the quirky characters really make the book hard to put down and keep the reader engaged.  I would recommend this book for fans of Joseph Delaney's Last Apprentice series, fans of Lemony Snicket's Series of Unfortunate Events, and any readers who like a Gothic book with a touch of fantasy to it.

This book goes towards the following reading challenges:
- 100+ Reading Challenge

The Black Book of Secrets 

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