August 2, 2011
Book Review: Shrouded Secrets
Joel T. McGrath
Published December 2nd, 2010
Genre: Science Fiction, Fantasy, YA
David and Danielle James are your everyday brother and sister; they argue, David bugs the crap out of his big sister, Danielle treats her brother like a nuisance, and underneath it all they really love each other. What these two don't know is that their normal lives are about to be turned upside down as they discover their hidden roots.
Shrouded Secrets reminds me of an old school fantasy book in that McGrath takes his time building up his characters so that you notice the subtle changes they go through that foreshadow the kind of person they will end up being. The world and culture of Eruditus are carefully constructed and introduced to the reader as if they too are a passenger on this fantastical ride. The problem I had was that I felt like this was a draft rather than a final product. Some of the dialogue and description was a bit wordy and could do with an edit. Shrouded Secrets has the potential to stand up there with titles like The Lightning Thief, but lacks a certain sparkly final coat.
This is a book parents will want their pre-teens to read. The situations and characters are very YA, but unlike other YA titles, you can trust that your kids are getting something really good out of their reading experience. The dialogue is relate-able, yet wholesome and the underlying messages of self-awareness and responsibility wrapped in a sci-fi fantasy package will leave them with concepts they can use in everyday life.
Overall, Shrouded Secrets is a heartfelt first installment to a series that has the potential to become a classic. Certain scenes really grabbed me on an emotional level. Without spoiling the main plot points, McGrath creates such a innately evil, totally dislike-able character in Madison that I whooped when she finally got what was coming to her. Also, I cried when I thought my favorite character was going to die. The character really became that real for me that I feared for his/her life. So now Mr. McGrath, you can say you made me cry, which is a difficult thing to do when it comes to books and movies. You see, McGrath's debut novel is no mindless read like most YA books today, which is why I recommend it. However, it may not appeal to more adult minds until it gets that final coat.