Title: Valley of Secrets
Publisher: Hodder Children's Books, UK
Publication Date: 2004
Book Condition: As New
Dust Jacket Condition: As New
Signed: Signed by Author(s)
Edition: 1st Edition
1st edition/1st printing in as new, unread condition. Signed by the author on the title page. No condition problems. Mylar covered. Bookseller Inventory # 000290
Synopsis: Abandoned as a baby, Stephen had nearly given up hope of ever finding his family. This epic adventure follows his change in fortunes as he receives an unexpected letter from a strange source and sets off on an unforgettable journey. From a drab room in London, where the rain confirms the greyness of his life, Stephen travels to a Cornish Valley; remote, exquisitely beautiful and heavy with secrets.
Review: The tradition of the cozy English children’s mystery, so sweetly portrayed in classics like Tom’s Midnight Garden by Philippa Pearce and Mandy by Julie Andrews, has been revived in Charmian Hussey’s exquisitely wrought The Valley of Secrets. Stephen Lansbury never knew his parents. So the orphan is stunned to receive a letter informing him he has inherited a large estate in the English countryside from his long lost great-uncle Theodore. Upon his arrival to Lansbury Hall, two things immediately strike Stephen: the exotic plant life that seems to bloom everywhere, and the meticulous upkeep of the old manor. When Stephen finds the water-stained journals of his uncle’s youthful travels up the Amazon River, the unusual greenery suddenly makes sense. But who (or what!) is maintaining the tidy kitchen garden and replenishing his woodbox? As Stephen pores over his uncle’s journals, his curiosity and apprehension grow. Are plants the only thing Uncle Theodore brought back from the rain forest all those years ago?
Charmian Hussey has given the stale orphan premise a clever 21st century twist by inserting loads of facts and figures about the devastating deforestation of the Amazon into her old-fashioned tale. There is even a list of mentioned flora and fauna included for aspiring young naturalists, who will no doubt be charmed by Stephen’s surprising "discovery" of a whole new species. For more mystery melded with Amazon lore, follow up The Valley of Secrets with Eva Ibbotson’s equally wonderful Journey to the River Sea. --Jennifer Hubert
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