Grace’s Secrets (Louise Park, Berbay)
Having relocated to a Scottish castle with her mother, Grace discovers a way into the past and promptly sets about helping her predecessors, even as her actual life seems to be crumbling. Grace is a fully drawn charactrer, with real and relatable worries. Scenes involving both time travel and modern life work well, and a strength of the story is Grace’s grappling with friendship and social interactions. Her questions and feelings about her absent father are a little thin but as Grace’s Secrets is the first in a series, this may be handled in future books, with this one laying more than adequate groundwork. Unfortunately, one of the central premises of the book did not work for me. Grace’s adventures into the past include her meeting a number of famous authors, who are all at a house party in the castle. But fun scenes and name-dropping aside, this does not particularly affect the actual plot and I’m unconvinced that most of the target audience would even understand the references without substantial explanation—which is a shame considering how strong the rest of the book is. Despite this, time-slip novels are perpetually popular with nine to 12-year-olds and Grace’s Secrets is certainly a worthy addition to the category.
Isobel Moore has worked in bookstores across the globe and is now an arts administrator