Secrets Series (2015)
I decided to write the series as one whole review, as they are so similar and part of the greater whole. It’s a collaboration between seven different Canadian authors that have come to tell the story of what happened to seven girls after their orphanage (The Benevolent Home for Necessitous Girls) burned down in a mysterious fire in 1964. These girls were too old to have an alternative home placement, so each girl was provided with money to start their life, and a clue to their past – who they were. What unfolded are a set of unique mysteries.
My Life Before Me by Nora McClintock
Rating: 4.5 Stars. This was definitely my favourite. I found this piece the most complex, and rich with mystery as it dealt with racial issues in the 1960s. It was well written and the tension was ripe throughout. Cady’s investigative reporter tendencies made her a great character to follow as she tried to find the truth about her own origins, while uncovering something much bigger. Loved.
A Big Dose of Lucky by Marthe Jocelyn
Rating: 4.2 Stars
. This was the first book I read in the series.
Interesting perspective of Malou, who is a mixed race girl trying to find her parentage in the 1960. Again, ripe with racial tensions and aboriginal issues as well she ends up in small town Ontario trying to discover who she is. Thoroughly Enjoyed.
Small Bones by Vicky Grant
Rating: 4.2 Stars. This piece I found adorable. Dot was an adorable character, her relationship with Eddie was just so sweet, it was a “feel good” piece. This mystery felt different than the others. I really liked the role that Dot fell into in her new life in her new town and the way that this mystery came together. Adored.
Innocent by Eric Walters
Rating: 4 Stars. Although this piece was well written and flowed beautifully, I have to say that this one was a bit easier to figure out the end result. I had guesses pretty early on about what the result would be. The romance in the story was quite cute and well developed. I think the physical setting was well chosen and well executed. Liked.
Stones on a Grave by Kathy Kacer
Rating: 3.8 Stars. This one felt as though the mystery started a lot later than the other pieces. I love the dimension that this story brought into the mix of the seven, one that was more deeply entrenched in World War Two. I would have liked more information on the journey that Sara had taken to get to Germany, parts felt slow and others felt more rushed. Liked.
Unquiet Past by Kelley Armstrong
Rating: 3.8 Stars
This story definitely had a darker feel to it. It was probably the creeper of the mix of books. I liked Tess, and the mixture of the Metis culture that is peppered in here – one of the two in the series that touches on aboriginal voices. The book moved quickly, but I didn’t feel like I was on the edge of my seat like I have felt with Armstrong’s other books. Liked.
Shattered Glass by Teresa Toten
Rating 3.8 Stars. Although I liked this one, and I liked how Toronto based it was, it just didn’t thrill me like the others had. I did like the cross over to real historical events within Toronto. I thought that the result was actually quite clever, but Toni as a character didn’t leave much of a memorable impression. Liked.
My biggest criticism would have to be the lack of connection between the stories. I realize that logistically that’s very difficult to do, as you don’t want to provide any spoilers to the other books. It just felt like there was a gap between the stories, that these girls went off into the world and their connection with each other almost completely disappeared. There were a few instances where exchanging letters were mentioned, but I was surprised at how many of the stories hardly mentioned the other orphans, considering how much like sisters they were. I would have loved to read more anecdotes of their orphanage life to show development of those relationships
Recommendations: These are great mysteries. You do not need to read them in any particular order, nor do you need to read every one of them. There are some illusions to more advanced themes, but all very clean and easy to read. I’d give it to 12 and up. Small bones, My Life Before Me, Unquiet Past and Innocent were safer than the others. Its definitely a series I sell to the students in my library, particularly girls, who are looking for a good mystery.