Title: The Secret Keeper
Author: Jane Alvey Harris
Genre: Young Adult / Contemporary Realism / Fantasy
The Secret Keeper is the second book in the My Myth trilogy. It tells the story of seventeen-year-old Emily Alvey, who was abused by her own father when she was only seven years old.
As a way of dealing with the post-traumatic stress, Emily has developed several forms of coping mechanisms. She’s developed alter egos that represent different aspects of her psyche, and she’s learned to compartmentalize her issues by creating multiple realms within her mind.
The First Realm is a world where she’s a unique and powerful being called an Ovate. The Second Realm is the “real world” where her family members, who are actually members of the Fae, have been exiled to by the High King of the fairies. And the Third Realm is the stronghold of the evil Drake, her father.
Abuse is a common social concern faced by many adolescents today. The effects are far-reaching and often devastating, particularly if it occurred early on in childhood. People deal with it in different ways, but there is usually a pattern of acting out, poor judgment, and self-destructive behaviors. It is often difficult to ask for help because of the stigma and the fear of not being believed.
This book addresses all of that and more. It also addresses the pain of being abused and betrayed by the people who were meant to love and care for you. The subject matter, while incredibly important and relevant, is also difficult for most readers to swallow. It has the potential to be really heavy and emotionally harrowing.
However, the author chose to tell this tale in a unique and refreshing way by blending social issues with high fantasy and using an allegorical format to depict Emily’s personal journey. The readers gain insight into Emily’s state of mind through action sequences that become more fast-paced and action-packed as Emily begins to gauge her own strengths and learns to fight metaphorical battles.
The plot is massive in scale and made intricate by the need to shift from reality to fantasy and back again. There were chapters in the book where this shift could have been more fluid and seamless. In addition, the fantasy elements threatened to overshadow the events that were unfolding in the real world, especially toward the end. However, in totality, the author was able to keep a firm grasp on her narrative despite the complexity of the plot.
The writing was poetic and evocative. Even when the plot bordered on confusing, readers will be turning page after page because of the descriptive nature of the author’s words and the attention to detail, especially in terms of world building.
Rich in imagination as well as moments of true emotion, this book delivers a message that is as powerful as any magical ability: the message that being a victim of abuse does not define who you are as a person. Vivid and graphic, the story takes readers on a journey of overwhelming odds and the personal strength needed to triumph against those odds. Emily’s journey is far from over, and this penultimate book will have readers eagerly anticipating what is shaping up to be an epic conclusion to this trilogy.
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