Book Reviews

‘The best moments in reading are when you come across something - a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things - which you had thought special and particular to you. And now, here it is, set down by someone else, a person you have never met, someone even who is long dead. And it is as if a hand has come out, and taken yours.’ Alan Bennett

“Many a book is like a key to unknown chambers within the castle of one’s own self.” ― Franz Kafka

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

The Secret Lake - Karen Inglis

'A boat!' Stella whispered repeatedly. 'How on earth could it have got there? And why was Harry soaked to the skin?'

Eleven year old Stella and her eight year old brother Tom have moved from Hong Kong to a new home in London, where they enjoy exploring in the gardens around their house. Harry, the little dog belonging to Mrs Moon, one of their neighbours, arouses their interest as he keeps disappearing, and when he reappears he is wet. During their summer holidays, the two children investigate the gardens further and find a buried boat, and a tunnel which leads to a secret lake. Here they meet a young boy rowing, and looking scared. Their subsequent adventures take them on a journey back to the past, making new friends and discovering their home as it was nearly a hundred years previously.

This was a lovely read of just over a hundred pages with short chapters, and the author builds the suspense well over the course of the story. It's a magical and imaginative children’s tale, filled with plenty of excitement, discovery and adventure, time-travel, and some rather special moles! The interactions between the children and with those they met were well written and the author conveys their real excitement and intrigue about the mysteries they uncover and the discoveries they make. The realistic details of their lives in the present  - such as their clothing and Stella listening to her iPhone and connecting with old friends from Hong Kong on Facebook - both adds substance and also contrasts well with the different appearances, speech and behaviour they find in the people they meet in the past. The attractive, intriguing setting is well evoked, and this is also nicely illustrated in the colourful, appealing cover design of the book jacket which matched the story nicely. 

The Secret Lake is aimed primarily at readers aged around 8 to 11 years old, and I think readers of that age bracket (girls and boys) would enjoy this one very much, though I myself certainly enjoyed escaping into it and joining them on their adventures through the time tunnel too! It's a recently rediscovered delight to pick up a children's story from time to time.

Source - author review copy in exchange for an honest review
Self-published - available in paperback and ebook editions


  1. Hi Lindsay - just a quick note to thank you so much for such a lovely review! I regularly take The Secret Lake into schools and it's wonderful to see groups that from as few as 20 up to 120 girls and boys all fall silent as I read from it. They then have endless questions about how I came to write it.

    Several publishers told me that it was too traditional - yet my experience is that our modern day children hanker after good mystery adventure stories in exactly the same way that we all did! Its shorter length has also met with hugely positive feedback from teachers and parents.

    Thank you again for including me on your wonderful blog! Karen

    1. Thank you for taking the time to visit and comment Karen. I really enjoyed The Secret Lake and it's great to hear how well it is being received in schools and that the audiences are keen to ask you questions about it too. I liked the length of the story and I agree you can't beat a good mystery adventure story!

  2. Great to hear of a book for this age range that should appeal to both girls and boys.

    1. Thanks for commenting Tracy. Yes I think it appeals to both.

  3. Hi Tracy - this is something that has been picked up by teachers and children's book editors - in fact the ex Head Reader for Puffin UK, who now runs The Writers' Advice Centre for Children's Books in London said in her Amazon review: "..because of the strong mix of characters it succeeds in being that most unusual of books - a book that can be appreciated by both boys and girls alike..."

    I must say, it hadn't occurred to me when writing it that it it would anything other than a book for both boys and girls - equally I hadn't realised that books of this broader appeal appear be in relative short supply for this age range...

    Lucky I persevered with it!

  4. Lovely review Lindsay! it was interesting also to read the author's comment about the book being 'too traditional.' My own experience with my two much younger grandchildren is that they already love to 'go on an adventure' and I gobbled up this kind of story when I was a little girl! More like this, I say. Oh and I think the cover really captures the mood too.


Thank you so much for taking the time to visit and leave a comment. It's great reading your comments and I really appreciate them :)