House of Secrets by Diana Harker

publication date: Sep 17, 2009
author/source: Anne Coates
House of SecretsImagine being 12 years old and living with your mother in a draughty little flat that has nothing to commend it. Your mother shares all her problems with you - financial and emotional - and you'd just rather get on being a pre-teen with no worries. Then your mother says she needs some time away and you're sent off to stay with your student sister living in The Laurels, a house that was once magnificent but is now decrepit...

This is what life is like for Jane in House of Secrets. Her sister Billa is far from welcoming and, left to her own devices, Jane explores what she thinks is a cupboard and finds herself back in the 1890s where children were to be seen not heard! Diana Harker uses the convention of the "absent parent" to set Jane off on an adventure in a time gone by. Food is plentiful and delicious, clothes are clean but restricting and nothing in the family in which she finds herself is as it seems - hence the title.

This is a morality tale showing children – rather obviously – that the grass isn't greener. Jane emerges a little wiser but there is no happy ending for her. She returns to the situation she has left but with more acceptance of her mother's honesty. The book is well-written and the characters are engaging.

Published by Book Guild Publishing,  House of Secrets by Diana Harker is aimed at the eight to 12 age range and is available from Amazon.