Review: ‘The Book of Secrets’: Ateban Cipher #1

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Happy book birthday to Allison Tait and her new baby,The Book of Secrets: Ateban Cipher #1! While I have read and loved ‘The Book of Secrets’ myself, I have asked Trish Buckley to review this one – given Allison and I run the ‘Your Kid’s Next Read’ Facebook page together and I want the review to be totally unbiased! Having said this, ‘The Book of Secrets’ was totally what I needed this month…a fast paced, engaging and totally heartfelt story to transport me to another place.

This is going to be the perfect September holiday read for many young readers! Get on it.

Thanks for the review Trish

Title:The Book of Secrets: Ateban Cipher #1

By: A L Tait

Publisher: Lothian Children’s Books

Published: September 12, 2017

Themes: Fantasy, Mystery, Adventure, Courage, Friendship, Family, Loyalty, Survival

This exciting fantasy novel aimed at the 9 to 12 age group will satisfy readers, and leave them wanting more. Its fast-paced plot balances a sensitive thoughtful narrator with his newly‑found‑rescuers-turned-friends so that by the time they all figure out the codes and clues, readers have been entertained and engaged.

It is better to go into the first book in the Ateban Cipher series with little knowledge about what is about to happen. Main character, Gabe has to adjust to a new world view when he steps out of his cloistered life, and we learn those lessons alongside him. His perilous journey requires him to accept that not all people are as honest or as moral as he, and his questions about the nature of evil and justifying bad deeds to achieve the right ends will be welcome to our savvy readers.

The medieval landscape is strong and believable. We meet monks, peasants, bandits and royalty but of course, there are other references which feel very contemporary – corrupt clergy, unfair imprisonment, and underestimating the abilities of females. There will be readers who love the magic and fantasy, but there will be others who will make connections with the world they see around them. Good books do this – they satisfy, but they can also challenge.

Without giving anything away, I do want to applaud some of the terrific representatives of characters presented here. It invites young people to consider the consequences of class structure, the damage of gender stereotypes, and the value of kindness and loyalty. Tait is deft and assured, and her ability to include these issues without ruining the story is marvelous.

Tait’s first series, the Mapmaker Chronicles were hugely successful and popular, and The Book of Secrets demonstrates the development of a clever author who is learning her trade and is aware of what keeps readers happy – a collection of plucky heroes who never give up, a story that mixes mystery and emotion, and a solid world building foundation.

I had such a good time with this book. Congratulations A L Tait on another winner.

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