4 July 2012
Softcover: 164 Pages
YA – Fantasy – Adventure
1st of Unknown Number of Books
If you’re interested in reading a story of regular folk grappling with magic, try Nicole’s The Farmhouse Secret. It’s the story of teenagers Noreen and Harvey who discover that marbles hidden in the attic of a farmhouse on Noreen’s family’s compound carry some magical properties. The story jumps between the present discovery of the marbles and the story behind their origins. The two friends enjoy reading up on journal entries that they find alongside the marbles and learning what they can about Noreen’s family history. However, things get tricky when someone from Harvey’s family begins to threaten Noreen in an attempt to gain possession of the magical spheres. Noreen and Harvey have to find a way to outsmart him before he kills them and uses the marbles for his own malevolent plans.
Plot & Pacing: I read this novel over a few days. For the most part, I really enjoyed reading this story. I found the major plot and conflicts quite interesting. I like the burgeoning romance between Noreen and Harvey, and I was happy with Nicole’s decision not to make it the focus of the story. Let me tell you: the novel is better for it! The idea of the marbles seems so simple, but it’s unique and effective in gaining the reader’s interest as it did mine. At the end of the story, I found myself still thinking of what might happen next, which is always a sign that the story is enjoyable.
Characters: Noreen and Harvey are likeable enough, but their dialogue is often unrealistic. (See comments under “Style and Writing”.) I also question Noreen’s decision to explore the farmhouse on her own without telling her parents where she was going. Granted, the story is obviously set in a time and place where young teenagers are allowed to ride ATVs on their own, but I don’t know that I would like my daughter riding off on her own, even if it is on family property. Harvey seems like a nice guy who doesn’t mind hanging out with Noreen. He’s not one of those stereotypical jocks either, which makes him pretty cool in my books.
Setting: The novel jumps between the 1700s and the present, and it’s nice to see the differences between the two time periods.
Style & Writing: The biggest issue I had with this story is that the writing got in the way of my fully enjoying it. Above all, I was really distracted by the dialogue among all the characters: It is very unnatural—even forced. Everyone seems to be avoiding “can’t” and “don’t” and “I’ll”, but the two main characters are teenagers, and teenagers CANNOT go a couple of sentences with contracting something! I was also particularly irked by a smattering of vocabulary problems that hinted at a lack of proofreading.
The Bottom Line: There are flaws in the writing, but they can easily be rectified and avoided with the help of a good proofreader and editor. I enjoyed the story, and I’m looking forward to Hardison’s next installment.
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