Thursday 12 August 2021

Secrets in September - Doreen McAvoy - Fern Valley Mystery Book 1

Secrets in September
Fern Valley Mystery Book 1
Elk Lake Publishing, Inc.
ISBN 9781649492807
eISBN 9781649492821 

This is an interesting debut novel. It brings to mind many other books, other Catholic of Christian Middle Grade fiction, and even some secular books. In some ways it reminds me of the Goodballs series by Tony Abbott and Colleen Madden but geared for older children. It also reminds me of the West Brothers books by Theresa Linden but for a younger audience. And a bit like the Sisters of the Last Straw series and geared for about the same reading level. And very much like Need by Joelle Charbonneau, because of the do something get something scheme. And several others. This story is what I call realistic fiction. It is a story that could be set in the here and now. Nothing supernatural or otherworldly. Or as Madeleine L’Engle called it Chronos time, real time fiction. The description of the story is:

Will was looking forward to eighth grade.
Will he even make it past September?

Will Abbott expects his eighth-grade year at Fern Valley Middle School to be the same as the last seven—school, soccer, and lazy Saturdays. But when a rash of crime strikes his little town, it doesn’t take long to realize something peculiar is going on. Will is certain the class bully, Beefy Boris, is involved and suspects he’s getting help—from their own classmates! As Will and his friends investigate, they stumble upon clues leading them to suspect someone even more sinister is responsible. Can Will and his friends—including a new girl with a mysterious past—trap the criminal mastermind and reveal a secret that has haunted Fern Valley for twelve years?”

To be honest while reading it, it was pretty obvious early on that something was up with the new teacher. And that not all things were as they appeared. But after a robbery at the local car lot. And $50 bills appearing. Soon Will and his friends realize some of what is happening, but not why. As they get closer to figuring thing out, the risks get higher and higher. And soon it is not just stuff that is missing or in harms way. 

This story is well written and an engaging read. The characters are really fun. And the story moves along at a good pace. There is nothing in the story that explicitly makes it Catholic. Even the church with Sunday school feel more evangelical or mainline Christian. But even with that being said. It was a great read.

I did not read much when I was younger because of my dual form of dyslexia. But I really enjoy reading Middle Grade and Young Adult books now. McAvoy’s writing style is similar to those of Andrew Clements, Gordon Korman, and Chris d’Lacey. All of whom are among my favorite authors for those age groups. I would absolutely pick up the next volume in this series and give it a read. It is a great debut novel and I look forward to seeing where the characters go next.

A fun middle grade read sure to entertain the whole family. 

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2021 Catholic Reading Plan

Books by Doreen McAvoy:
Fern Valley Mysteries: